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NORTH CANTON -- The stalled NEXUS Gas Transmission project still could be completed before year's end, but federal regulators would have to approve the pipeline soon to meet that target.
"We've got that race car sitting there revved and all ready to go, we just need that go ahead," NEXUS President James Grech said recently during the Utica Capital Midstream Seminar at Walsh University.
NEXUS was one of several pipeline projects discussed at the conference hosted by the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and ShaleDirectories.com.
NEXUS is a proposed 36-inch-diameter interstate natural gas pipeline. The $2.1 billion project would cross eastern and northern Stark County and the city of Green in Summit County and carry natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shales to users in Ohio, Michigan, Canada and other Midwestern markets.
Detroit-based DTE Energy and Spectra Energy, which merged this year with Calgary-based Enbridge, are partners in the project.
NEXUS had expected the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the project earlier this year and to have the pipeline in service during the fourth quarter.
That didn't happen before one of FERC's three commissioners resigned in February, leaving the commission without a quorum and stalling the project. The term of another commissioner ends June 30.
"We were waiting until the last minute to see if we got our certificate, and obviously we didn't get it, but we feel pretty good about our prospects once FERC has its quorum back in getting approved," Grech said.
That quorum could arrive soon.
On Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sent President Donald J. Trump's two FERC nominees -- Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee -- to the full Senate for a vote.
Powelson is a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Chatterjee is a senior energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
Federal bureaucracy isn't the only obstacle for NEXUS, however.
The Coalition to Reroute NEXUS (CORN) landowner group, with support from the city of Green, took FERC and NEXUS to court in May, asking a federal judge to bar FERC from approving the project.
CORN alleged that FERC's review of the project was arbitrary and failed to account for safety issues. The case is pending.
NEXUS also would need to find workers to build the pipeline at a time when other projects, such as Energy Transfer's Rover Pipeline are under construction.
Grech said contractors have assured NEXUS they will have the needed workers to build the pipeline.
Project spokesman Adam Parker said NEXUS would follow all safety and environmental guidelines in trying to meet the year-end target.
"We pride ourselves on that and feel it sets us apart from others," Parker said.
Conference attendees also heard an update on Kinder Morgan's Utopia Pipeline.
Utopia is a 12-inch-diameter pipeline designed to carry natural gas liquids, such as ethane or an ethane-propane mix, roughly 215 miles from Harrison County to Fulton County for shipment to Canada.
The $540 million pipeline is under construction and should be in service in January, said Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan's vice president of public affairs.
Utopia's route crosses southwestern Stark County and parts of Tuscarawas and Carroll counties.