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FERC blocks bid to restart Rover pipeline drilling

25 May 2017 15:49 (+01:00 GMT)
FERC blocks bid to restart Rover pipeline drilling

Washington, 25 May (Argus) — The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has denied a request from the developer of the 3.1 Bcf/d (89mn m³/d) Rover natural gas pipeline to resume drilling activities the agency halted two weeks ago.

Energy Transfer Partners, the developer behind the $4.2bn pipeline, last week told the agency that denying its request to resume horizontal directional drilling in two locations could jeopardize the in-service schedule for the Rover pipeline, which would transport Marcellus and Utica shale gas to a natural gas hub in western Ohio for eventual delivery into Michigan and Canada. The first phase of the project has an in-service schedule in July, and the second phase has an in-service schedule in November.

The company did not immediately respond for comment.

FERC on 10 May blocked construction crews from starting directional drilling in new areas until Energy Transfer Partners figured out the cause of a 2mn USG spill of drilling fluids last month in Ohio. FERC said it had "serious concerns" about the magnitude of the spill and blocked drilling in new areas until a third-party contractor had time to complete an investigation.

Energy Transfer Partners, in a filing on 16 May, asked FERC to continue drilling activities in two locations — the Captina Creek and Middle Island Creek — where it said it already set up drilling equipment. The company said having to remove this equipment, and then bring it back at a later date, would increase the likelihood of environmental damage and threaten the project's schedule.

"Delaying the Captina Creek drill would delay the project unnecessarily and have a significant adverse impact on Rover and its customers, and would place Rover's ability to meet its contractual obligations in jeopardy, which is not justified under the circumstances here," the company said.

FERC today declined to allow new drilling but allowed the company to remove some equipment and take steps to prevent a bore hole from collapsing. FERC said the resumption of drilling was still contingent on hiring a third-party contractor and that contractor coming up with a plan to prevent further spills.