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FERC Says Overlapping Rover, Leach XPress Pipelines Can't Be Built Without Solution

FERC has notified affiliates of Energy Transfer Partners LP and Columbia Pipeline Group Inc. that it can't approve two major Appalachian pipeline projects until an overlapping 13-mile section of the proposed routes in Monroe and Noble counties, OH, is redesigned.

In a letter to developers this month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said its review of the Rover and Leach XPress pipeline projects revealed that they "are proposed in exactly the same location," with construction "planned for the same calendar year." FERC said if the problem is not resolved to its satisfaction, then it could not continue its review or approve the projects.

The commission asked for a response within 10 days of its June 21 letter. A Rover spokesperson said the company is currently working with Columbia and plans to propose a resolution during the week of June 27.

Energy Transfer's 700-mile Rover pipeline would stretch through parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan to deliver 3.25 Bcf/d of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales to the Midwest and Canada. The company has already delayed the pipeline's in-service date to early 2017 after requesting an expedited review last year for approval by 2Q2016 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 9, 2015).

Columbia's 130-mile Leach XPress, including two new pipeline segments and loops, would take gas from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, adding 1.53 Dth/d of capacity to the Columbia Gulf Transmission system for delivery to better markets outside the basin.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency said in comments filed with FERC that the draft environmental impact statement for both the Leach and Rayne XPress projects is insufficient and recommended that additional information be included in the final version (see Daily GPI, June 15).

The agency identified several potential available alternatives that might reduce the environmental impacts of those projects. Specifically, it noted some of the other pipeline projects that are currently under review in the region that would provide more firm transportation from the Marcellus and Utica, saying those projects might make it unnecessary to build the Leach XPress.

FERC has requested more information about how Rover and Columbia have worked to determine the best way to construct their projects along a similar path.

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