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FERC finds Rover failed to finish restoration, may delay in-service approvals

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Essential Energy Insights - January 2021


FERC finds Rover failed to finish restoration, may delay in-service approvals

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff put Rover Pipeline LLC on notice for failing to complete promised restoration work in conjunction with placing two compressor stations into service. The commission also suggested the 3.25 Bcf/d natural gas project may face close scrutiny before federal regulators allow remaining portions of the project to go into service this spring.

Federal reviews for future in-service requests will depend in part on whether Rover can demonstrate a commitment to satisfactorily restoring its work areas and on FERC staff's confidence in Rover's follow-through on these promises, Rich McGuire, director of the environment and engineering section of FERC's gas division, said in a March 26 letter to Rover.

Rover has been waiting for FERC to sign off on bringing the pipeline's Burgettstown Lateral into service. Rover asked in mid-February for FERC approval by Feb. 26, hoping to bring the lateral online by March 1.

Rover initially began service Sept. 1, 2017, bringing about 700 MMcf/d of its certificated 3.25 Bcf/d of capacity online on a limited path. Since then, Rover has placed additional supply laterals and compressors into service, raising capacity to current levels of about 2 Bcf/d. March flows to-date have averaged close to 1.6 Bcf/d, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Still remaining are the startup of a second 42-inch-diameter mainline, five more compressors and four more pipeline laterals: CGT, Sherwood, Burgettstown and Majorsville.

At issue in the March 26 letter were compressor stations in Carroll and Wayne counties in Ohio. FERC authorized the units to enter service Dec. 8, 2017, and Feb. 21, 2018, respectively. Because restoration was not done when FERC granted the permission, Rover had committed to finishing restoration by specified dates, including filing photos with FERC when the work was done, McGuire said in his letter.

The incomplete activities included restoring a parking area, removing trailers, restoring underlying areas, graveling work space, and installing gravel and rock in a drainage channel, according to the letter.

FERC gave Rover two days to complete the work and account for why it had not already done so within the time frames allotted.

In response to FERC's letter, Alexis Daniel, a spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners LP, said the company was working with FERC to resolve outstanding remediation concerns "in the safest, most expeditious manner possible, while also taking into account the current weather conditions."

"We remain dedicated to restoring all construction areas to pre-existing or better conditions," she added.

As it awaits sign off on the Burgettstown laterals, Rover has tried to show FERC in filings that the pipeline operator is actively addressing erosion control problems and is pouring resources into restoring and repairing landslips, particularly along the laterals in West Virginia that are not yet in service.

The lack of an approval from FERC may indicate the commission is holding out for more progress.

Environmental compliance and inspection reports for the project in recent months have recounted repeated problems with erosion controls, in some cases leading to slope failures and sedimentation affecting waterways. West Virginia regulators earlier in the month cited Rover for a failure to operate and maintain erosion controls as well as impacts to state waters in the area around the Sherwood Lateral.

Eric Brooks contributed to this article.

Maya Weber and Eric Brooks are reporters for S&P Global Platts, which, like S&P Global Market Intelligence, is owned by S&P Global Inc.