FERC Gives Rover Pipe OK to Use Different Tech to Speed Up Drilling

This story necessarily gets into the weeds of pipeline construction. But so you have the essential story line up front, this is it: On Monday Energy Transfer asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to dump something called annular pressure monitoring (APM) when drilling underground (horizontal directional drilling, or HDD) for the Rover Pipeline–and on Tuesday FERC granted that permission. Here’s the slightly longer explanation. Rover is a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that will run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and eventually into Canada. Early on, Rover had early missteps when using HDD to insert pipeline under things like rivers and roads. The most serious episode occurred when Rover drilling spilled 2 million gallons of non-toxic drilling mud in a swamp near the Tuscarawas River (in Ohio) back in April (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). However, there were other episodes too, which led FERC to stop all HDD work on Rover in April while they investigated. In August, FERC gave ET/Rover a list of eight conditions before they could restart HDD work (see FERC Issues Rover 8 Commandments to Restart Horizontal Drilling), and in September, FERC finally lifted the ban for some locations (see FERC Lifts Rover Horizontal Drilling Ban, Pipeline Work Resumes). One of the conditions in resuming HDD work was for Rover to constantly monitor downhole annular pressure–an indicator that problems may be happening and that mud is beginning to leak. In Monday’s request to FERC, Rover points out using APM is slowing work by up to 75% because when the signals stop coming they must pull everything out of the hole, reattach the wires, and push it all back down again. So Rover, working with experts, came up with an alternative to APM. It was that alternative that took FERC just a day to review and agree to. All of which means the final work to complete Rover should now speed up a bit…

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