June 19, 2018 / 12:09 PM / a year ago

Leach natgas pipe, after West Virginia blast, to resume operations early July

June 19 (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp’s Columbia Gas Transmission (TCO) unit has estimated that the section of the Leach Xpress natural gas pipeline, damaged in a blast on June 7 in Marshall County, West Virginia, will resume operations early in July.

The company continues to work with federal pipeline safety regulators on a repair plan, it said late Monday in a notice to customers who use the line.

TransCanada also said it will reduce capacity to zero on parts of the Leach line in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio on Wednesday. This will impact scheduled volumes at the Stagecoach-Leach Xpress meter in Monroe County near the Ohio-West Virginia border.

That meter, which connects Leach to EQT Midstream Partners LP’s Strike Force South gathering fields in Monroe and Belmont counties in Ohio, returned to service late last week.

Strike Force can also deliver gas to Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Rover and Enbridge Inc’s Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipelines.

The shutdown of Leach Xpress had forced producers using the line to find other pipes to ship gas out of the Marcellus and Utica shale regions of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

The company has not yet provided details on what caused the blast.

Alternative pipelines include ETP’s Rover, Tallgrass Energy Partners LP’s Rockies Express (REX), EQT Midstream Partners LP’s Equitrans and Enbridge’s Tetco, according to analysts at S&P Global Platts.

Columbia Gas, which declared a force majeure after the blast, said the damaged section of pipe could affect movement of about 1.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd). One billion cubic feet of gas is enough to fuel about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

Energy analysts, however, said overall output in the Appalachian region was little changed by the blast as producers, like Range Resources Corp and Southwestern Energy Co , found other pipes to move their gas.

In fact, Appalachian output has increased to around 27.9 bcfd over the past three days from around 27.5 bcfd before the pipe blast, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The 1.5-bcfd Leach Xpress in West Virginia and Ohio, which entered full service at the start of this year, transports Marcellus and Utica shale gas to consumers in the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast.

The 12,000-mile (19,312-km) Columbia pipeline system, which TransCanada acquired in 2016, serves millions of customers from New York to the Gulf of Mexico.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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