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FERC OKs Rover HDD Restart at Tuscarawas River

FERC on Tuesday cleared Rover Pipeline LLC to restart horizontal directional drilling (HDD) underneath the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, OH, ending the latest regulatory setback for the nearly completed 3.25 Bcf/d, 713-mile natural gas mega project.

In multiple filings over the last two weeks, Rover provided the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with a revised plan for the Tuscarawas HDD in response to a Jan. 24 order suspending work because of concerns about potential environmental impacts.

“We have reviewed and approve Rover’s revised plan,” FERC staff wrote Tuesday.

Among other things, Rover submitted an evaluation of alternative crossing methods and plans to conduct additional groundwater monitoring near the Tuscarawas HDD.

“We remain committed to continuing to comply with the approved HDD plans and the additional measures requested and approved by FERC,” spokeswoman Alexis Daniel of Rover sponsor Energy Transfer Partners LP, told NGI’s Shale Daily. “Work also continues at several other HDD locations along the line. To date, we are more than 99% complete with construction for the full project and more than 79% complete on HDD construction.”

Tuesday’s order is positive news for shippers on Rover’s Phase 2, which is scheduled to go into service by the end of March. Phase 2 would expand total east-to-west capacity to 3.25 Bcf/d from 1.7 Bcf/d. After issues arose with the second Tuscarawas HDD, analysts had raised the possibility of a delay for the project, continually dogged by regulatory issues.

FERC’s Jan. 24 order came as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) voiced concerns about a potential repeat of the roughly 2 million gallon inadvertent return of drilling fluids into a wetland near the Tuscarawas site that occurred during Rover’s Mainline A HDD last year.

FERC cited a loss of drilling fluid during the pilot phase of the second HDD crossing at the Tuscarawas site as the basis for stopping work for further evaluation. For its part, Rover said it was “frustrated” by the Commission’s decision given that the company was following procedures and taking precautions set out in its approved supplemental HDD plans, which had anticipated some loss of drilling fluids.

For Tuesday’s gas day Rover was flowing a little more than 1.6 Bcf/d from receipt points in eastern Ohio to interconnects with the ANR and Panhandle Eastern pipelines in Defiance, OH, according to NGI’s daily Rover Tracker.

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