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Rover tries to move forward after FERC investigations

Citing sabotage as a potential source of diesel fuel contamination, Rover Pipeline LLC submitted supplemental plans to support another request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to resume drilling activities on the 3.25-Bcf/d natural gas pipeline project.

Rover sent a letter to FERC on Aug. 4 to respond to findings from a commission-initiated investigation into its construction methods after spills of drilling fluids in Ohio and the presence of diesel fuel in a spill at a Tuscarawas River drill site.

Rover presented for FERC approval a supplement to a horizontal directional drill contingency plan for Ohio, which included input from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. It also submitted a plan that would include testing of drilling slurry across Ohio sites to help detect any diesel fuel. Along with the protocols, Rover submitted another request to resume drilling activities as it tries to meet its latest projected in-service dates. After delays, the company now plans to have part of the first phase done at the end of summer.

The Energy Transfer Partners LP subsidiary said its contractors did not release diesel fuel during construction, but it agreed to follow the recommendations for horizontal directional drilling from the third-party investigator.

In response to the investigator's findings, Rover said it never asked for or approved the use of diesel fuel while drilling. "The testing results and evidence to date do not support the allegations," Rover said. "The data is at best inconclusive."

Given the distribution and concentration of the diesel fuel in the April 13 spill, Rover said its theory is that the fuel was either inadvertently introduced to the area during an attempt to clean up the spill or came from a "deliberate or malicious act of individuals opposed to the project."

Based on these conclusions, Rover said it will remind employees and contractors about the requirements of the FERC certificate and it has hired additional security personnel to oversee some drill sites.

The investigations into the project began in July, with the FERC Office of Energy Projects paying special attention to the 2 million-gallon spill at the Tuscarawas River site in Stark County, Ohio, on April 13. The agency's Office of Enforcement is investigating the presence of diesel fuel in that spill, a potential certificate violation.

FERC staff suspended some drilling activities May 10 in an attempt to prevent more spills on the project. The commission asked Rover to submit protocols it would follow to avoid such incidents and other information before the commission would allow the company to resume drilling along the entire project. (FERC docket CP15-93)