The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said on Feb. 11 it approved a request by TransCanada Corp.’s Columbia unit to put part of the company’s $600 million Gulf XPress natural gas pipeline into service in Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Gulf XPress 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 the U.S. Southeast and Gulf Coast

The 0.88-billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) Gulf XPress project includes construction of seven new compressor stations in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

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 have enabled shale drillers to boost output in Appalachia to a record high of 31.6 Bcf/d in February vs. 26.9 Bcf/d in the same month a year ago.

That represents about 38% of the nation’s total dry gas output of 83.3 Bcf/d in 2018. A decade ago, Appalachia was responsible just 1.6 Bcf/d, or 3%, of the country’s total production in 2008.

Separately, TransCanada has said it plans to complete its $3 billion Mountaineer in 2019.

Mountaineer is designed to increase gas capacity in West Virginia by 2 Bcf/d.