Williams 17/18 Update: Full Atlantic Sunrise Startup Slightly Delayed

Last week Williams, the largest pipeline/midstream company operating in the Marcellus/Utica region, released its fourth quarter and full year 2017 update. While the company lost $342 million in 4Q17 due to “non-cash charges related to Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,” the company made a profit of $871 million for the year, up 100% from making $431 million in 2016. The company brought five big projects online in 2017–Gulf Trace, Hillabee Phase 1, Dalton, New York Bay and Virginia Southside II–which added an extra 2.8 billion cubic feet per day of capacity and led to record-breaking volumes of gas flowing along the Transco pipeline (see Williams Marcellus Buildout Leads to Record Transco Pipe Volumes). However, it was the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project that stole most of the limelight in last week’s update. Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County, PA. The pipeline will be ready in July, on schedule. However, an associated compressor station will take “a few months longer” than July, meaning the pipeline won’t be online until early fall sometime (not on schedule). Below is last week’s Williams update, a copy of the latest PowerPoint presentation, and excerpts from the analyst phone call…

2/22/18 Update: Our original thought was that with a delay in the compressor station starting up, the entire pipeline would be delayed in starting up. Not true! We reached out to Williams for an explanation for how the pipeline could stay on schedule without the compressor going online initially. We got this statement back: “The gas that is placed into the system by producers enters the pipeline at very high pressures. In addition, we have existing Transco compression near the terminus of the line that is pulling the gas through the line. This push/pull dynamic is what allows gas to flow through the pipe prior to the full commissioning of the project’s compression.” So there you have it. While the full startup will be slightly delayed, the pipeline will still flow much of the volume intended–on schedule in July.

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