Regulatory obligations related to natural gas gathering facilities in West Virginia that apply to their owner, Equitrans Midstream L.P., also apply to Big Dog Midstream LLC, the company planning to purchase the assets, according to the state’s Public Service Commission.
The Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSCWV) in an Oct. 12 filing with FERC disputed assertions about the sale made by Equitrans in a Notice of Sale it had filed with FERC on Sept. 27. Equitrans told FERC that since it is not a public utility under West Virginia law, obligations in a provision known as the Crawford Affidavit do not apply to the sale of the gathering facilities to Big Dog (CP20-312). The gathering facilities are located in Greene County, Pa., and the following W.V. counties: Braxton, Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Ritchie, Tayor, Tyler and Wetzel.
However, the PSCWV said it had previously notified FERC of the history of proceedings in West Virginia and the obligations of Equitrans “and its successors” set forth in previous state orders. The obligation of Equitrans to seek approval of abandonment of the facilities in the Crawford Affidavit extend to Big Dog, it argued.
“PSCWV reiterates its request that FERC note the commitment for continued service to which Equitrans, and its successors, is bond and condition any abandonment by sale on Equitrans and Big Dog assuring the continuance of gas service currently being provide by the Gathering Facilities,” the PSCWV said.
The state commission reiterated language in the Crawford Affidavit regarding the need for the PSCWV to approve abandonment of any of the facilities. Any successors in ownership shall not discontinue distribution service to any customer in West Virginia counties without obtaining approval from the state commission, it said.
The PSCWV also cited previous filings by Equitrans regarding the sale of other gathering facilities in which Equitrans acknowledged its agreement to abide by the commitments under the Crawford Affidavit. Equitrans noted the provisions applied to its sale of other facilities to Diversified Oil and Gas Corporation.
“Whether Big Dog expressly acknowledges that it is subject to the commitments made in the Crawford Affidavit does not change the provision that the successors of Equitrans are subject to those commitments, as clearly stated in the Crawford Affidavit and expressly agreed to by Diversified in Docket No. RP19-1482,” the PSCWV said.
The state commission noted that Big Dog has stated that it will continue to provide service to existing customers, and that the facilities are critical to natural gas service for thousands of West Virginia customers. But it urged FERC to carefully review the ability of Big Dog to take over, operate and maintain the facilities that it plans to purchase from Equitrans.