NEW YORK (Reuters) - Spectra Energy has received final approval to build a $1.2 billion natural gas pipeline that will connect New York City to the New Jersey network and producing regions across the country, it said on Friday.
The Houston-based company will begin construction on the 20-mile (32-km) extension "in the coming weeks", it said in a statement, after receiving the go-ahead from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The 800-million-cubic-feet-per-day pipeline, which will be the first in 40 years to connect New York City to the wider U.S. gas grid, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013, Spectra said.
It will tie into Spectra's Texas Eastern Transmission and Algonquin pipelines, giving New York new access to producing regions in Pennsylvania, the Rockies and the southern Gulf region.
The line has received stiff opposition from locals concerned about the effect that increased natural gas drilling has on the environment. But it fits with New York City's plan to reduce harmful emissions by burning more natural gas than dirtier oil-based fuels.
While the densely populated U.S. Northeast is the biggest heating oil market in the world, New York City is phasing out higher-polluting fuels in favor of the country's growing supply of natural gas.
One of the dirtiest grades of fuel oil -- No. 6 -- will no longer be used in New York by 2015, under city regulations. Halving the use of fuel oil by 2013 could save about 120 lives a year due to lesser health risks from burning cleaner fuels, according to the mayor's office, but that requires more infrastructure if natural gas is to take its place.
(Reporting By Edward McAllister; editing by M.D. Golan)