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ETP Rover natgas pipe seeks U.S. FERC OK to resume Ohio drill

(Reuters) - Energy Transfer Partners LP provided U.S. federal energy regulators with an analysis of residential water wells in the vicinity of the company’s drilling site under the Tuscarawas River in Ohio as part of its Rover natural gas pipeline project.

In a filing made available on Monday, ETP asked the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to allow the company to resume drilling for a second pipe under the Tuscarawas later Monday, as it tries to complete the Rover project by the end of the first quarter.

FERC ordered Rover to cease drilling of the second pipe under the river on Jan. 24 and asked the company to evaluate alternatives to the drill after Rover lost some drilling fluid - a mixture of clay and water - in the hole. Those alternatives included completing the current drilling, finding another location to cross under the river or go with just one pipe across the river.

ETP said in a letter to FERC last week that it was not unusual for some fluid to be lost and that none has returned to the surface.

The $4.2 B Rover project is designed to carry up to 3.25 bcfd of gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the U.S. Midwest and Canada’s Ontario province.

ETP already has one pipe in service under the Tuscarawas, with more than 1.1 bcfd of gas flowing through it. One bcfd of gas is enough for about 5 million U.S. homes.

While drilling that first pipe, the company spilled about 2 million gallons of drilling fluid into a wetland in April. That spill led FERC in May to ban Rover from horizontal drilling temporarily.

ETP said it was still on track to complete the project by the end of the first quarter. Analysts, however, said completion of the project would probably be delayed into the second quarter, at least.

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

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Chizu Nomiyama


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