FERC on Thursday authorized Rover Pipeline LLC to place Phase 1A of its project into service, just in time to meet backer Energy Transfer Partners LP’s target for late summer start-up.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Rover is all-clear to place its Cadiz Lateral, Mainline A, Supply Connector A, four meter stations and the Panhandle-Rover Interconnect in service, granting a request submitted in mid-August.

The Commission’s order also authorizes Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Co. LP and Trunkline Gas Co. LLC to place Rover-related backhaul projects into service.

Analysts have estimated the Phase 1A facilities would add about 211 MMcf/d of capacity out of the constrained Appalachian Basin, with Rover’s Phase 1B, scheduled for service later this year, bumping up total capacity on the project to 1.35 Bcf/d.

Once complete, the $4.2 billion, 710-mile Rover would provide 3.25 Bcf/d of incremental capacity to allow Marcellus and Utica shale production to reach markets in the Midwest, Gulf Coast and Canada.

FERC previously told Rover it would withhold in-service authorization for Mainline A pending additional clean-up following a 2 million gallon horizontal directional drilling (HDD) fluids spill near the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, OH. Commission staff said Thursday that they have “evaluated Rover’s response” to its list of clean-up requirements and the company has made satisfactory progress.

“Rover has demonstrated that removal of drilling muds contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons has been completed at the Beach City Quarry and is proceeding satisfactorily at the Oster Quarry, and that Rover’s removal activities have been approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA),” FERC wrote. “Likewise, the removal of drilling mud and cuttings from the Tuscarawas wetland has been substantially completed, with disposal being reviewed and monitored by the Ohio EPA.”

FERC said the in-service authorization “does not bear on or impact the Office of Enforcement’s ongoing investigation into the composition of the drilling fluid at the Tuscarawas River [HDD], and the causes thereof.”

Ohio EPA Cites Missing Stormwater Permit

Meanwhile, Rover still needs to submit a stormwater construction permit to the Ohio EPA in order to comply with a series of unilateral orders issued July 7, according to an agency spokesman.

The stormwater permit is one of many requirements Ohio EPA placed on the project in the July orders, issued in response to a number of alleged environmental violations occurring during the Rover’s construction.

Ohio EPA spokesman James Lee said Rover has complied with the July orders except for the stormwater permit, which remains “the one issue for which the company is not currently in compliance.

“The agency will issue a notice of violation if Rover chooses not to comply,” he said. “Ohio EPA will take all steps within the agency’s authority to ensure that stormwater is properly managed.”

Asked about the permit, Rover spokeswoman Alexis Daniel said, “We continue to work with the FERC and the Ohio EPA to resolve all issues in a manner that is satisfactory to all parties involved.”

Lee detailed Rover’s progress cleaning up following the Tuscarawas incident.

“Following Ohio EPA orders, Rover has removed industrial waste (177 semi-loads) from the Beach City quarry, and work on removing the material from the Oster quarry continues — 549 semi-loads of material totaling 13,300 tons have been removed thus far,” Lee told Shale Daily in an email. “The agency has not yet verified that the work is complete at Beach City; additional testing will be required.”

Rover and Ohio EPA butted heads earlier this year when the state agency began citing Rover for a number of water and air quality violations allegedly occurring during the project’s construction. Ohio EPA has also pursued hundreds of thousands in civil penalties from Rover.

In a May letter to FERC, Ohio EPA said Rover was challenging its enforcement authority and asked the federal agency to intervene. Days later, FERC, citing the scope of the Tuscarawas incident, ordered Rover to halt all new HDD activities pending an independent review.

That HDD moratorium, still in place Thursday, has dogged Rover for months and led to delays for the project’s Phase 1B, which was originally scheduled for service in July. FERC recently asked Rover to submit additional information as it considers allowing HDD activities to resume.

ETP has said it expects to complete construction on all phases of Rover by late November or early December.