Natural gas to be more readily available in Eastern Panhandle

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – Officials with Mountaineer Gas plan will hold several meetings early next year to dispel any misinformation about their plan to install more than 45 miles of gas line in the Eastern Panhandle.

Last month the West Virginia Public Service Commission approved phase one of a proposed gas-pipeline expansion that would run roughly 24 miles from Morgan County to Martinsburg near the Cumbo Yard Industrial Park.mountaineer_gas

Residents have raised concerns about the new pipeline’s impact on the environment, particularly the Back Creek, one of the state’s last clean waterways.

Moses Skaff, Senior Vice President of Mountaineer Gas, said the 10-inch distribution line will have a minimal impact.

“It will require a lot less development of the line,” he said.

Skaff said they will do what’s known as a directional bore that goes underneath the ground.

“You won’t even see the line,” Skaff said. “That will go under the Back Creek and the wetlands completely.”

Still, some remain concerned that the company has not taken into account the region’s karst geology.

Skaff says the expansion will enhance the reliability of the natural-gas supply for the area and provide for the developing commercial and residential needs.

“Right now we only have gas coming up through Martinsburg from the Virginia side,” Skaff said. “If something were to happen to that gas supply, then Martinsburg and all the industries in Martinsburg would be out of gas.”

The new line brings in an additional supply from Columbia Gas in Maryland.

Skaff said they will begin seeking permits in the first quarter of 2017 and construction should start in 2018.

He hopes phase one, which will cost an estimated $30 million, will be completed in late 2018 or early 2019.

Phase two and phase three will bring natural gas into Jefferson County.

They are shorter and travel almost entirely through public right-of-ways so Skaff does not expect them to take as long or cost as much.

He said the entire project should be finished within three or four years.

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