Oct 5 (Reuters) - U.S. federal energy regulators on Friday approved a request by TransCanada Corp's Columbia Gas Transmission unit to put part of its $3 billion Mountaineer XPress natural gas pipeline project into service in West Virginia.
Mountaineer is one of several pipelines designed to connect growing output in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio with customers in other parts of the United States and Canada.
Specifically, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Columbia's request to put Mountaineer's Elk River compressor station into service.
The 2-billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) Mountaineer project is designed to increase gas capacity in West Virginia. The project includes construction of 170 miles (274 km) of new pipeline in the state.
One billion cubic feet is enough gas to power about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
New pipelines built to remove gas from the Marcellus and Utica basins have enabled shale drillers to boost output in the Appalachia region to a forecast record high of around 29.4 bcfd in October from 24.2 bcfd during the same month a year ago.
That represents about 36 percent of the nation's total dry gas output of 81.1 bcfd expected on average in 2018. A decade ago, the Appalachia region produced just 1.6 bcfd, or 3 percent of the country's total production in 2008.
In other news, TransCanada said on Friday that it placed the first Western phase of its WB XPress project into service. The Western phase is designed to move about 0.76 bcfd of gas from producers in Appalachia to consumers in the Gulf Coast.
The company said it plans to finish the second Eastern phase of the $900 million project by the end of the year.
TransCanada also said it plans to finish its $600 million Gulf XPress project by the end of the year. Gulf XPress is designed to move 0.88 bcfd of gas from Appalachia to the U.S. South.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Marguerita Choy