Ohio EPA Continues to Hound 99% Done Rover Pipe re River Drilling

Rover Pipeline–a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that runs from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada via the Vector Pipeline–is about 99% done and as of last week, most of it is now up and running (see FERC Allows Rover Pipeline Startup in Michigan, Close to 100% Done). There are still a few spots being worked on, but very few. Even though the project is on the home stretch and will be 100% done by the end of June, Ohio EPA’s Craig Butler continues to hunt Rover like Captain Ahab hunted Moby-Dick. He can’t leave it alone. Obsessed. In February Captain Butler filed a letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) claiming that testing done by OEPA found the presence of very low levels of the toxic chemical tetrachloroethene (PCE) at Rover’s underground drilling site at the Tuscarawas River in southern Stark County (see Ohio EPA Continues to Target Rover Pipe in New FERC Letter). OEPA admits they can’t prove the very low levels of the compound actually came from Rover’s drilling activity–but hey, what’s proof got to do with it? Energy Transfer Partners, the company building Rover, responded by saying the PCE comes from sediment at the bottom of the long-polluted Tuscarawas River itself. On Tuesday OEPA filed another letter with FERC (full copy below) disagreeing with ET’s assessment, once again requesting FERC impose all sorts of requirements and conditions on the project–putting OEPA in charge of some of it (which is patently unconstitutional)…
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FERC Gives Rover Pipe OK to Restart Drilling Under Tuscarawas River

Looks like asking “Pretty please, with a cherry on top” (along with providing requested information) works! MDN previously told you that on Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asked Rover Pipeline for more information before FERC would allow the project to restart drilling under the Tuscarawas River (see Rover Again Asks FERC for OK to Restart Tuscarawas Drilling). FERC asked for a review of three different options, including drill in a different place under the river and forget about drilling for a second pipe at all. Rover didn’t like either of those options and lobbied, hard, to get FERC to allow them to restart drilling in the same place where they’ve now lost 200,000 gallons of drilling mud down hole. Rover responded (on Sunday) to FERC’s Friday request, providing the information FERC requested. Rover specifically asked FERC for permission to restart drilling by 3 pm Monday–at the original location. The Monday deadline came and went. However, something in Rover’s appeal must have convinced FERC, because the OK to restart drilling came a day later–on Tuesday. Work has now resumed at the site, much to the consternation of Ohio EPA’s Craig Butler, who continues to oppose the project…
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Rover Again Asks FERC for OK to Restart Tuscarawas Drilling

On Jan. 24, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sent a letter to Rover Pipeline stopping drilling at the Tuscarawas River site, which had only restarted in December (see FERC Stops Rover Drilling Near River After 200K Gal Mud Disappears). In a strongly worded letter dated Sunday, Jan. 28, Rover told FERC they are “frustrated by the inaccurate central premise underlying the letter received from” FERC shutting down drilling at that location (see Rover “Frustrated” with FERC Order to Stop Drilling at Tuscarawas). Some 99% of all construction work is now complete for Rover Pipeline. There’s only a little more to do to finish things up, including installation of a second Rover Pipeline (next to the first) underneath the Tuscarawas River. Rover has “lost” 200,000 gallons of drilling mud down the hole in drilling for the second pipe. However, the “lost” mud has not come back to the surface. Mud disappearing–and staying down the hole–when drilling for pipelines is not uncommon. Yet FERC will not lift the stop work order. On Friday, FERC sent a letter to Rover saying Rover must provide information on three different scenarios before work can resume: (1) how Rover plans to complete drilling at the current location without losing any more mud, (2) change locations and run the second pipe under another part of the Tuscarawas River, or (3) forget about drilling and installing a second pipe altogether, and stick with just a single pipe already in place now. FERC’s letter brought a swift response. On Sunday, Rover provided a mountain of evidence to say the current plan of drilling under the river at the existing location is the right plan. Rover went one step further, asking FERC to allow them to begin drilling again by yesterday (Monday) afternoon at 3pm. To the best of our knowledge, that did not happen…
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Rover “Frustrated” with FERC Order to Stop Drilling at Tuscarawas

In a strongly worded letter dated Sunday, Rover Pipeline tells the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) they are “frustrated by the inaccurate central premise underlying the letter received from” FERC shutting down drilling at the Tuscarawas River location. On Jan. 24 FERC sent a letter to Rover stopping drilling at Tuscarawas, which had only restarted in December (see FERC Stops Rover Drilling Near River After 200K Gal Mud Disappears). In April 2017, some 2 million gallons of drilling mud went down the hole near the Tuscarawas River and popped back out where it should not have, harming a wetland by smothering aquatic life (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). That 2 million gallon “spill” in April triggered a shutdown of all HDD work in Ohio. It was only last December that Rover was allowed, by FERC, to resume more HDD work at the Tuscarawas site (see FERC Gives Rover OK to Resume All HDD Work, Incl. Tuscarawas River). After “losing” another 200K gallons down the hole, FERC shut it down a second time, on the 24th. So why is Rover frustrated? Because (a) losing some drilling mud was predicted and expected, and (b) NONE of the 200K gallons of mud lost has come back to the surface. There is no “inadvertent return,” as it’s called. Rover says 200K gallons staying down the hole, in the ground and not coming back out, is no big deal. That’s why they’re frustrated…
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Analysts Speculate Rover Pipe Will be Delayed Following FERC Order

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has slapped a stop work order on underground horizontal direction drilling (HDD) for Rover Pipeline at the site crossing under the Tuscarawas River (see FERC Stops Rover Drilling Near River After 200K Gal Mud Disappears). There is tough geography in that area. In April 2017, Rover lost approximately 2 million gallons of nontoxic drilling mud at that location, mud which leaked out of the hole and onto the ground (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). That accident caused a shutdown of all Rover HDD work in Ohio. Work eventually resumed (last year). Work at the Tuscarawas location didn’t resume until last December (see FERC Gives Rover OK to Resume All HDD Work, Incl. Tuscarawas River). But now Rover has lost another ~200,000 gallons of drilling mud in the Tuscarawas borehole. Hence the FERC order. Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of Rover, maintains the entire Rover project will be completed by the end of March. Given the new stop work order with no apparent resolution in sight for how ET plans to overcome the problems at Tuscarawas, industry analysts are now speculating that Rover will not be done by the end of March, as advertised…
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FERC Stops Rover Drilling Near River After 200K Gal Mud Disappears

The Ohio EPA continues its yapping insistence that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) *permanently* shut down underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work being done by Rover Pipeline near the Tuscarawas River over concerns that nontoxic (totally safe) drilling mud keeps disappearing down the borehole. FERC listened, sort of. In an order dated yesterday, FERC told Rover to *temporarily* stop HDD work at Tuscarawas until Rover can outline a plan for moving forward that FERC has confidence will address concerns over the disappearing drilling mud. When mud used for drilling holes comes out on the surface any place other than the hole from which it went down, it’s called an “inadvertent return.” We call it a leak. However, if that same mud never comes back to the surface, as sometimes happens, it’s fine. Except when it’s a LOT of mud, as is the case in drilling near Tuscarawas where a cumulative 200,000 gallons of it have disappeared down hole, not (so far) coming back out. Sooner or later it seems likely that at least some of that mud will come back to the surface–somewhere. That’s the concern that no doubt prompted FERC to send Rover a letter yesterday telling them to (for now) stop HDD work at Tuscarawas…
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Ohio EPA Continues Campaign to Stop Rover Pipe, Hounds FERC Again

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) continues to hound the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about a potential spill of drilling mud by Rover Pipeline near the Tuscarawas River. Last week we told you that OEPA, which has ZERO regulatory oversight of the Rover Pipeline project, had been told (by informants) that when Rover restarted underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work at the Tuscarawas site, some 146,000 gallons of drilling mud went down the hole but never came back out (see OEPA Continues to Hunt Rover Pipe, Claims 2nd Spill Near River). In April 2017 Rover experienced an inadvertent return (i.e. spill) of some 2 million gallons of drilling mud at the same location (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). Last year’s accident shut down all HDD work for months. It wasn’t until December that FERC allowed Rover to restart HDD work at the Tuscarawas site. After OEPA went blabbing to FERC last week, Rover pushed back by saying there has been no spill or inadvertent return (see Rover Refutes Ohio EPA Claim of 146K Gal. Spill @ Tuscarawas River). We theorize that some (maybe even all 146,000 gallons) of the drilling mud did go down the hole and stayed down the hole. So far it hasn’t come back out, which is not a problem in anyone’s book. OEPA was back at FERC on Friday like an ankle-biting Chihuahua, asking FERC to shut down Rover HDD work because of this unsubstantiated rumor of drilling mud gone missing. Enough is enough! When will FERC slap OEPA around and tell them to back off?…
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Rover Refutes Ohio EPA Claim of 146K Gal. Spill @ Tuscarawas River

Yesterday we brought you the news that the Ohio Dept. of Environmental Protection (OEPA) had made claims, in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), that Rover Pipeline’s restart of underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) near the Tuscarawas River had resulted in a second large spill of drilling mud–146,000 gallons (see OEPA Continues to Hunt Rover Pipe, Claims 2nd Spill Near River). OEPA claims to have spies that told them that while drilling 146,000 gallons of drilling mud had disappeared “down hole.” That typically means the mud will reappear somewhere on the surface. OEPA does not regulate the Rover project–it is a FERC/federally regulated project. And that frosts OEPA’s director, tattletale Craig Butler. Except this time it appears OEPA was mistaken, or perhaps acting on bad information. According to a statement by Energy Transfer, builder of Rover, there has been no “release” or “spill” of drilling mud a second time at the Tuscarawas River site…
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OEPA Continues to Hunt Rover Pipe, Claims 2nd Spill Near River

Ohio EPA (OEPA) director Craig Butler, aka Captain Ahab, continues his mission to harpoon that rascally great white whale known as the Rover Pipeline. Somehow Captain Ahab, er, a, Mr. Butler has “learned” that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) Rover was recently allowed (by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to resume near the Tuscarawas River (over the objections of OEPA) has “lost” 146,000 gallons of drilling mud “down hole.” This is at the same location where Rover previously lost 2 million gallons of drilling mud down hole, some of which turned up back on the surface, at a swamp (aka “wetland”) located next to the Tuscarawas (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). That 2 million gallon “spill” in April of last year triggered a shutdown of all HDD work in Ohio. It was only in December that Rover was allowed, by FERC, to resume more HDD work at the Tuscarawas site (see FERC Gives Rover OK to Resume All HDD Work, Incl. Tuscarawas River). Butler’s spies have reported to him that more drilling mud, some 146,000 gallons, has disappeared into the earth during HDD drilling at the Tuscarawas site. Some perspective on this alleged news: First, how did Butler even know of a “problem”? OEPA doesn’t regulate the Rover project! Second, since Rover doesn’t answer to OEPA (which frosts Butler), Butler runs like a tattling child to FERC with every perceived violation he can trump up–even though he doesn’t have all the facts. Third, even though drilling mud may disappear down hole, that doesn’t mean the mud comes back to the surface. Sometimes it stays down there–forever. Fourth, even if the mud does come back to the surface, drilling mud is nontoxic–the same stuff used in kitty litter, cosmetics and toothpaste. The only thing an overabundance of spilled mud can do is smother a few fish. This latest ploy by Butler to tattle on Rover to FERC is his attempt to try and manipulate FERC into shutting down Rover’s HDD work once again…
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New Marcellus/Utica Driller Snaps Up Assets in OH, PA

It’s not often these days we get to announce a new driller in the Marcellus/Utica. Today is one of those days. Actually, this company has been around since early 2015, but we’re only now becoming aware of them. Pin Oak Energy Partners, headquartered in Akron, OH, is an exploration and production company engaged in both conventional and unconventional oil and natural gas wells and the operation of associated assets (like pipelines). Pin Oak currently operates 363 wells producing nearly 5.7 MMcfe/d (32% liquids) across more than 32,000 acres in the Marcellus/Utica region. The company is also involved in midstream, field services and operations through its affiliate companies. Pin Oak is on an aggressive acquisition binge of shale AND midstream assets, as well as leasing new acreage. Who is Pin Oak? According to CEO Chris Halvorson, Pin Oak is comprised of folks who were formerly with AB Resources. You may recall that AB Resources built a position in the southwestern “core” of the Marcellus and sold out to Chevron several years ago. Pin Oak is “what’s next” for for the former AB folks. Their target: the Appalachian basin. In July, Pin Oak bought 9,300 acres of leases and 8 Utica wells from EQT in Guernsey, Muskingum, and Columbiana counties (Ohio). Earlier this week Pin Oak announced they’ve purchased another 7,700 acres of leases and 10 Utica wells from an undisclosed seller in Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Mahoning counties (in Ohio) and Mercer, Crawford and Venango counties (in Pennsylvania). Below are two recent announcements. Pin Oak can be summed up in one word: aggressive. Keep a close eye on this company in the coming months and years…
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Artex Energy Selling 14,885 Utica Acres in Eastern Ohio

Artex Energy Group, a subsidiary (on paper) of Marietta, OH-based Artex Oil Company, is selling 14,885 Utica Shale acres located in Noble, Guernsey, Washington and Tuscarawas Counties (southeastern OH). On its website, Artex claims it is “one of the largest oil and gas producers in Ohio” pumping out “millions of dollars per year in royalties to landowners.” The company says it has drilled and operates “more than 600 operated wells in Ohio.” Some of those wells are Utica Shale wells. However, many of their wells are conventional (vertical only) non-shale wells. The auction notice says 87% of the leases being offered are held by production. Over 2,000 acres is part of a joint venture Artex has with Antero Resources on land in Noble and Washington Counties. Artex is accepting bids now and will accept bids through March 2nd, with a target closing date of March 31st. Here are the particulars of what is being offered for sale…
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Price Gregory Hiring 400 People in OH to Build Cornerstone Pipeline

help wantedIn December 2013 MDN told you about the Cornerstone Pipeline project–a pipeline that will stretch nearly 50 miles from the MarkWest cryogenic processing plant in Cadiz, OH northwest connecting to M3’s fractionator plant in Scio and M3’s cryogenic processing plant in Leesville along the way as it terminates and connects to Marathon Oil’s refinery in Canton, OH (see Marathon Petroleum’s Newly Announced “Cornerstone” Utica Pipeline). The pipeline will flow, at various times, crude oil, condensate and natural gasoline being produced from the Utica Shale. The $140 million project is now ramping up and hiring 400 people to build the pipeline. Price Gregory is the company tapped to build it and Dover (Tuscarawas County), OH has been selected as the headquarters and staging area for the project…
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OH Court: Landowners Can’t Cancel Lease for Royalty Nonpayment

can of wormsAn unfortunate decision in an Ohio court case may have far-reaching implications for Ohio landowners. In Armstrong v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C., landowners Myron and Nikki Armstrong purchased 61 acres of land in Tuscarawas County, OH in 2003 with an existing oil and gas lease (dating back to 1972). After purchasing the property, the Armstrong’s land was pooled into a drilling unit and a well was drilled. We do not know how much (or even if) the well produced in the way of gas and oil. We don’t know if it was hooked up to a pipeline for production. We assume it was hooked up and is producing because the Armstrongs have sued to cancel the lease saying they haven’t received a single royalty check since the well was drilled. Tuscarawas County Court ruled that because there is no express provision in the original lease saying “you can cancel this lease if we don’t pay you the royalties we say we’ll pay you,” the court ruled in favor of Chesapeake and the company that owns the lease and is supposed to pay the royalties–Belden & Blake. The Armstongs appealed the decision to the Ohio Court of Appeals, Fifth Appellate District. That court has just ruled the same way–saying even though royalties haven’t been paid, that’s not a good and sufficient reason to cancel the lease…
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EVEP Reports Waterless Fracked OH Well is a Bust

disappointmentReading through earnings calls transcripts (hey, somebody has to do it), we discovered what we believe no one else has (yet) discovered or reported. On an earnings call yesterday, top management from EV Energy Partners, one of the largest acreage holders in the Utica Shale, shared interesting initial results from the test Utica well they drilled in Tuscarawas County, OH–a well drilled using waterless fracking technology from GASFRAC (see Details on GASFRAC’s Waterless Frack Test in OH Utica). The theory being tested by EVEP is that using water during fracking of a well targeted for oil recovery somehow damages the chances of oil recovery. GASFRAC used a mix of 75% butane and 25% mineral oil to frack EVEP’s “Nettles” well. The results? On yesterday’s earnings call EVEP Chairman John Walker revealed that after 90 days in production, the Nettles well is producing about half the production of a similar nearby well fracked using water. That is–the waterless frack job was a big disappointment…
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Chesapeake Tries Waterless Fracking at OH Utica Shale Well

Big NewsSomething we consider pretty big news: Chesapeake Energy is running an experiment with waterless fracking. They’ve contracted with Canadian waterless fracking company GASFRAC to attempt what is the second (that we’re aware of) waterless frack job on a Utica Shale well–in Tuscarawas County, OH. The first waterless frack job done by GASFRAC was for EV Energy Partners on a Utica well also in Tuscarawas County (see Details on GASFRAC’s Waterless Frack Test in OH Utica). We consider it a good sign that Chessy thinks its worth a few million bucks to try it out for themselves. Chessy stresses this is still very preliminary…
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