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Williams Gets Final Go-Ahead for Atlantic Sunrise From FERC

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Bringing in pleasant news for Williams Companies Inc. (WMB - Free Report) , the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently gave its final nod to place Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline into service. Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project is likely to come online from tomorrow.

Just a month back, the company had announced the completion of construction of the Atlantic Sunrise project and requested for FERC’s approval for the pipeline to become operational. The construction on the Pennsylvania portion of the project had commenced nearly a year ago. Notably, Atlantic Sunrise had received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the FERC in February 2017 amid opposition from green campaigners, since the opponents of the pipeline could not gather satisfactory facts. The court ruled that the implementation of the measures proposed by the FERC and the company will reduce environmental hazards to significant levels and greenlighted it to proceed with construction.

The project design includes 200 miles of new greenfield pipe, two compressor facilities in Pennsylvania along with other compressor station modifications in five states.

Importantly, the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline, worth $3 billion, is an expansion of the company’s Transco pipeline, which is the largest-volume natural gas transmission system in the United States. It will transport Marcellus and Utica shale gas from Pennsylvania to other parts of the country. Supported by long-term shipping commitments, Williams boosted the transportation capacity of Atlantic Sunrise by 12% to 15.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). Cabot oil and Gas Corporation (COG - Free Report) has already secured about 1 Bcf/d of transportation capacity on the project.

The company expects the pipeline to add value to its existing energy infrastructure, which will provide it with a steady flow of revenues in the future. This will also help citizens by providing them access to an affordable and clean energy source, as well as contribute to the economic growth of the country.

Notably, in March 2018, Williams placed into service Phase 2 of the Garden State Expansion Project, which is another notable project of the Transco pipeline. The second phase of the Garden State Expansion Project has a transportation capacity of 180,000 dekatherms of gas per day to Burlington and Mercer counties, NJ.

In addition, Williams had bought online five other Transco expansion systems — namely Gulf Trace, Hillabee Phase 1, Virginia Southside II, Dalton, New York Bay — over a year. Meanwhile, the company’s other major Transco expansion projects, including North East Supply Enhancement and Gateway, are expected to become operational by next year.

Zacks Rank and Key Picks

Williams currently carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). The company is currently grappling with a huge debt burden and constant roadblocks faced by its Constitution Pipeline project.

Some better-ranked players in the industry include Pembina Pipeline Corporation (PBA - Free Report) and Plains Group Holdings, LP (PAGP - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Pembina Pipeline’s earnings for the current year are anticipated to increase 29.3% on a year-over-year basis.

Plains Group’s 2018 earnings are expected to grow 69.23% year over year.

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