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FERC blocks restart to Rover pipeline drilling: Update

25 May 2017 22:44 (+01:00 GMT)
FERC blocks restart to Rover pipeline drilling: Update

Adds comment from Energy Transfer Partners

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 construction work near two waterbodies that 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 the 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.

Pipeline developers use horizontal directional drilling to install pipelines in areas where traditional pipeline construction techniques are infeasible or environmentally damaging.

Energy Transfer Partners today said it was on schedule to bring into service part of the pipeline in early July — the section between Cadiz, Ohio, and Defiance, Ohio — and then bring into service the remainder of the first phase of the pipeline by late July. It said it does not anticipate delays to the 1 November in-service schedule for the second phase of the pipeline.

"We continue to work with the FERC and the Ohio [Environmental Protection Agency] and hope to resolve all outstanding issues soon," the company said.

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.