Ohio EPA warns of potential Rover spills: Update
Adds comments from Energy Transfer Partners
Houston, 12 January (Argus) — The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has alerted the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that crews installing Energy Transfer Partners' Rover natural gas pipeline could spill more drilling fluids, following a spill of 2mn USG last year that resulted in a temporary drilling halt for the project.
On-site personnel on 10 January told the Ohio EPA they have lost 146,000 USG of drilling fluid while drilling a pilot hole under the Tuscarawas river in Stark County, Ohio, the agency said in its filing with FERC. A pilot hole is part of an early stage of pipeline installation, which involves directionally drilling a small-diameter hole along the pipeline's path before widening it to accommodate the pipeline itself.
"We are deeply concerned the second drill under the Tuscarawas river is heading towards a similar outcome which resulted in the previous release to the environment," the Ohio EPA's letter said.
Energy Transfer Partners said it is following a contingency plan that was approved by FERC and the Ohio EPA, and said the fluids lost down the pilot hole are a "loss of returns," which the company said is not the same as a drilling fluid spill.
The Ohio EPA said in its letter that a build-up of pressure from the loss of drilling fluids over time led to the April 2017 spill of 2mn USG.
The environmental agency is requesting more information on the project and said it wants daily updates on the drilling, including observations and recommendations from a third party monitor.
The 3.25 Bcf/d (92mn m³/d) Rover line has experienced delays and regulatory setbacks during construction as a result of fluid spills, soil erosion, the unauthorized destruction of historic property and public opposition. Rover was under federal orders prohibiting the company from continuing horizontal drilling at new Ohio locations for six months following a spill of 2mn USG of drilling fluid near the Tuscarawas river in April 2017.
The pipeline in August started partial service of 1 Bcf/d from Cadiz to Defiance, Ohio. The full project has been planned to begin service by the end of March.