Williams Cos. (WMB) said fellow midstream firm Energy Transfer (ET)  was using the legal system in a “thinly disguised attempt to stifle competition” and asked for quick action on a case ET filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in April.

In its 59-page response to the filing, Williams said the case had no business being brought before a federal commission.

“That’s just an inappropriate venue,” said Chad Zamarin, Williams’ executive vice president of corporate strategic development. “It’s kind of an unprecedented act to try and slow a competing project down.”

In Energy Transfer’s original filing with FERC in April, the company sought FERC’s determination on whether Williams Cos.’ Louisiana Energy Gateway (LEG) project is a gas-gathering or transmission pipeline system. A transmission pipeline requires federal oversight if it crosses state borders. The LEG project will add infrastructure in the Haynesville Shale and segments cross the Louisiana-Texas state line.

Several midstream companies in the area are building up natural gas pipeline networks in preparation for an increase in demand when several LNG export terminals along the Gulf Coast come online over the next two years.

“LEG looks like a transmission pipeline, will apparently operate like a transmission pipeline and its developer talks about it like it’s a transmission pipeline—but despite all that, Williams insists it’s a gathering line,” the company wrote in its filing with the FERC.

ET’s motive is to delay the development of the system, Zamarin said. The company’s filing states why the LEG is not a transport line, starting with how the system’s primary function is to move unprocessed natural gas from parts of the Haynesville to the company’s plant facilities in Gillis, Louisiana.

“The gas is not pipeline-quality until it gets to the end of our LEG gathering system and we remove the CO2,” Zamarin said. “And then we deliver the gas into intra- and interstate pipelines, and our filing describes that. Ironically, we point out several Energy Transfer systems look very similar.”

Energy Transfer had not responded to a request for comment from Hart Energy sent May 14. 

The FERC filing was the latest in an ongoing dispute ET has with several midstream companies in acreage on the Louisiana side of the Haynesville. The conflict started when Energy Transfer disputed the rights-of-way of other companies’ plans to cross ET’s network. The company filed different suits against Williams, DT Midstream and Momentum Midstream.

On April 10, a Louisiana appellate court ruled 3-0 against ET’s case against DT Midstream. One of the appellate judges wrote a consenting opinion blasting ET’s case, stating that he would “decline the invitation to further deprive landowners of the rights of ownership or to disrupt the progression of the oil and gas industry.”

Analysts said the decision indicated that Energy Transfer’s other case would not fare well in the Louisiana system. Within days, Energy Transfer filed the petition with FERC regarding Williams’ LEG project. ET seeks to expand its Gulf Run system to transport gas to LNG terminals.

Thanks to the lawsuits, Williams has moved the completion date for the LEG back to the second half of 2025 from the original late 2024 date. Zamarin said the company has found other routes for the system that will not cross ET’s lines as a precautionary measure.

“We are going through the litigation process, and we do have a very high degree of confidence that we're going to win in court, but we're not waiting for the full outcome of those court proceedings,” he said.