Ohio EPA troubled by HDD problems on Rover Pipeline

Rover PIpeline is continuing to have horizontal directional drilling (HDD) problems under the Tuscarawas River in Ohio, and that concerns the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Kallanish Energy finds.

In a three-page letter, the state agency said it is troubled by the company’s recent loss of returns associated with the pilot hole installation under the river, in southern Stark County.

“Based on past practices and inadvertent returns at this site, and the manner in which they occurred, Ohio EPA has significant concerns for the potential of a similar releases as occurred at this location in April of 2017,” the agency said in a Jan. 11 letter to Energy Transfer Partners, the company developing the Rover line.

Last April, more than 2 million gallons of a clay-based slurry from HDD spilled into the river and a nearby wetland.

 “We are deeply concerned this second drill under the Tuscarawas River is heading towards a similar outcome, which resulted in the previous release to the environment,” the EPA letter said.

It added: “Our overarching question is when this pilot hole, which is continually losing fluids, will be abandoned, fully grouted and a new point of entry will be considered."

The Ohio EPA said it inspected the HDD drilling site on Jan. 10. It reported 146,000 gallons of drilling fluids have been lost down the hole. Three attempts to seal the hole have failed, the EPA said. No inadvertent returns have been detected.

The agency said it “intends to closely monitor this situation if loss of returns continues.” It pledged to work directly with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on what it called “the next course of action.”

The EPA posed a series of questions to Energy Transfer Partners and asked the company for daily updates.

The company and the Ohio EPA have been battling for months, especially over the 49 HDD sites in Ohio and Michigan under tighter FERC oversight. Ohio is pushing a $2.3 million fine against the company in connection with the HDD spills.

The 213 miles of the pipeline from Cadiz in eastern Ohio to Defiance and along two laterals were put into service on Aug. 31.

Constructing the 125-mile pipeline from Defiance north into Michigan and east into Ontario is continuing. That project is expected to be in service by the end of the first quarter of 2018, ETP said.

The 711-mile twin pipeline will carry natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales to the Midwest, Canada and the Gulf Coast. The $4.2 billion pipeline will move up to 3.25 billion cubic feet per day from processing plants in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.