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Rover developers lied about historic house: FERC

14 Jul 2017 20:40 (+01:00 GMT)
Rover developers lied about historic house: FERC

Houston, 14 July (Argus) — The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has accused Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) of lying regarding the demolition of a historic building while constructing the 3.25 Bcf/d (92mn m³/d) Rover natural gas pipeline project.

FERC in a notice posted yesterday said the company "falsely promised" it would avoid adverse effects to the historic property that it was simultaneously "working to purchase and destroy." The statement refers to the pipeline's demolition of the historic Stoneman House in Carroll County, Ohio, last year. Rover subsequently "made several misstatements" in its responses to FERC's questions about why it had purchased and demolished the house, FERC's notice said.

FERC did not say what the result of its notice would be, but the regulatory body already has a halt on all new construction in place for the project because of investigations into an April drilling fluid spill.

ETP told Argus today that the company has already resolved all outstanding issues regarding the house, and will continue to work with FERC to address any remaining issues.

In January 2016, the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office said the Stoneman House, a two-story brick house built in 1843, was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and expressed concerns about a planned compressor station to be built across the road from the house as a part of the Rover project. In a letter to a company the pipeline had hired to aid in the permitting process, the preservation group called for further consultation to consider ways to avoid or reduce adverse effects to the property.

But by the end of May 2016, Rover had purchased the property and torn the house down.

Earlier this year the preservation group and the pipeline signed an agreement that said since Rover had demolished the house, it must undertake additional mitigation measures to offset the adverse effects that had already occurred, and pay an annual fee to the Ohio History Connection Foundation.

But the preservation group in April filed with FERC alleging that ETP was not keeping up their end of the deal. The Ohio State Historic Preservation Office said it had been in "repeated contact with representatives from Rover" regarding their fulfillment of the agreement but "no efforts have been made to meet those obligations."

Last month the agreement was amended to make the annual payment the pipeline would have made to the preservation group into a one-time sum of $1.5mn.

The preservation group today did not respond to a request for comment.

Development of the $4.2bn Rover line to transport Marcellus and Utica shale gas to a natural gas hub in western Ohio has had multiple setbacks since it began construction earlier this year, throwing its scheduled November start date into doubt. The project will likely not reach targeted volumes for its phase one startup of 750mn cf/d to Defiance, Ohio, scheduled for later this month, according to BTU Analytics.

And just this week the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the project has not complied with state regulations and has urged the state's attorney general to file civil charges against its developers.