December 14, 2017 / 7:31 PM / in 10 months

ETP seeks U.S. OK to drill more on Rover natgas pipe, Ohio wants pause

Dec 14 (Reuters) - Energy Transfer Partners LP urged U.S. regulators to allow the company to start more horizontal drilling as it works to complete part of the Rover natural gas pipeline by the end of the year, after delays caused by spills.

The request, involving the largest gas pipeline under construction in the United States, was made in a letter to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency that was filed with U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late on Wednesday.

It was a response to the Ohio agency’s request to the commission on Nov. 24 to pause Rover’s horizontal drilling to cross under large obstacles like highways and rivers, citing fluid spills in the state.

ETP officials were not immediately available for comment.

Once complete, the $4.2 billion Rover will carry up to 3.25 billion cubic feet per day of gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the U.S. Midwest and Ontario in Canada.

One bcfd of gas can supply about 5 million U.S. homes.

In the letter, ETP said the Ohio EPA “grossly mischaracterizes Rover’s activities.”

ETP said the five spills identified by the Ohio EPA were at two locations, Captina Creek and Black Fork Mohican, and not “significant” in size, the biggest being an estimated 1,188 gallons at Captina Creek on Oct. 11.

Ohio EPA spokesman James Lee, however, said by phone on Thursday there have been two additional spills at Black Fork Mohican since Nov. 24, the biggest being an estimated 350 gallons.

ETP said Rover was in compliance with the FERC-approved plan that allowed the company to start horizontal drilling again in September.

FERC banned ETP from new horizontal drilling in May following a spill of around 2 million gallons of fluid into the Tuscarawas River wetland in Ohio.

ETP has said that Rover was more than 95 percent complete and it expects to finish the first phase of the project in Ohio by year-end and the second phase from Ohio to Michigan by the end of the first quarter.

In late November, ETP said it had only the Captina Creek drill left to finish to complete phase 1B of the project from Seneca to Cadiz in southeast Ohio.

The company finished the 225-mile (362 km) phase 1A from Cadiz to Defiance in northwest Ohio in August. Flows on the pipe peaked at 0.8 bcfd in November, according to Reuters data.

ETP also said in late November that it had completed 25 of the 49 horizontal drills for the entire project and had 16 in process.

Major gas producers that have signed up to use Rover include units of privately held Ascent Resources LLC, Antero Resources Corp, Range Resources Corp, Southwestern Energy Co, Eclipse Resources Corp and EQT Corp.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Richard Chang

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