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FERC orders Rover directional drilling stop: Update

24 Jan 2018 22:17 GMT
FERC orders Rover directional drilling stop: Update

Adds comments from Energy Transfer Partners in paragraph five.

Houston, 24 January (Argus) — The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today directed Energy Transfer Partners to stop drilling under the Tuscarawas river in Ohio for the installation of its Rover natural gas pipeline project.

FERC ordered a cease of horizontal directional drilling under the river following two letters this month from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing concerns about lost drilling fluids. Ohio EPA said on site crews told the agency they had lost 146,000 USG of drilling fluids down the pilot hole for the pipeline, and in a request filed last week the agency requested that FERC order a cease of all drilling on the project.

FERC in its order today said Rover has taken actions in accordance with approved contingency plans to attempt to resolve the loss of drilling fluid, "but no approach to date has been completely successful."

FERC said even though no fluid has reached the surface, the geology at the river crossing warrants investigation into other approaches. Before the drilling can advance, the commission is requesting additional details on how Rover plans to address the fluid losses and is asking the company to perform analyses on crossing techniques and locations.

Energy Transfer Partners today said it has ceased operations at the site in response to the FERC order, but added that it is continuing construction at all other locations and is already more than 99pc complete with total project construction.

The company yesterday said it was in compliance with a drilling contingency plan that was approved by FERC, and that it has not experienced a spill while installing the second line under the river.

Crews spilled 2mn USG of drilling fluid last year while installing the first line under the river, resulting in federal orders prohibiting the company from performing horizontal drilling at new Ohio locations for six months.

The 3.25 Bcf/d (92mn m³/d) Rover pipeline has experienced multiple delays and regulatory setbacks during construction. 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.