Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources have formed a joint venture to build and own a 550-mile natural gas pipeline to North Carolina and Virginia, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would provide a new route for direct access to growing production in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. It would run from Harrison County, West Virginia, southeast through Virginia with an extension to Chesapeake, Virginia, and then south through central North Carolina to Robeson County, near the border with South Carolina.

Dominion will build and operate the $5 billion pipeline on behalf of the joint venture. The company has commenced preliminary work, undertaking surveys to determine a route that meets operational and reliability needs while minimizing the impact on the environment and on historical and cultural resources, the partners said.

Dominion will also hold the largest share of the jointly owned project, with a 45 percent stake. Duke Energy will account for another 40 percent, with Piedmont owning a 10 percent stake and AGL Resources having a 5 percent holding. Customers of the pipeline will include subsidiaries and affiliates of all four joint venture partners. PSNC Energy also plans to sign a 20-year contract, pending regulatory approvals.

A pre-filing request is planned to be made to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this fall, followed by a FERC application in the summer of 2015. If all goes to plan, Dominion would receive the FERC Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in the summer of 2016 and would then be able to begin construction.

The FERC review process solicits input from local, state and federal entities, as well as private citizens. It takes into account public safety, air quality, water resources, geology, soils, wildlife and vegetation, threatened and endangered species, land and visual resources, cultural and historic resources, noise, cumulative impacts and reasonable alternatives.