FERC investigates Rover and Midship gas pipelines on charges of improper work

Dec. 17, 2021
FERC is gathering information on the two natural gas pipelines to determine whether they should be hit with civil penalties for improper construction methods.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is gathering information on two natural gas pipelines to determine whether they should be hit with civil penalties for improper construction methods. Both the Rover Pipeline, running from West Virginia to Michigan, and Midship Pipeline in Oklahoma are operating and expected to stay in operation. But FERC Chairman Richard Glick said both cases should remind companies that significant penalties are possible if they do not live up to the stipulations in their federal authorizations.

FERC is trying to determine whether Rover Pipeline LLC, a unit of Energy Transfer LP, should be hit with a $40 million civil penalty for improper construction work when the line was built under the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, Ohio. FERC’s Office of Enforcement concluded that Rover used diesel and other unapproved substances in drilling mud, and that the company improperly disposed of contaminated drilling mud.

The commissioners have asked Energy Transfer (formerly Energy Transfer Partners) to respond before making their own determinations.

Rover is a 711-mile line, 42-in. OD pipeline that carries up to 3.25 bcfd to supply regional gas markets with Marcellus shale production.

Midship and landowners

FERC also has received reports that Midship Pipeline Co. LLC was built incorrectly. An order earlier this year required the company, indirectly owned by Cheniere Energy Inc. and EIG Global Energy Partners, to adequately restore land along its route and negotiate settlements with landowners. The company has not yet resolved all landowner claims.

The FERC chairman said there also is evidence that rock and construction debris were buried instead of removed. Potentially significant civil penalties could be levied, Glick said.

Midship Pipeline runs about 200 miles through Oklahoma to connect the STACK and SCOOP gas fields to pipelines that can take gas to the Gulf Coast and the East. It is a 36-in. OD line that can carry up to 1.44 bcfd of gas.

At its monthly meeting, FERC also put to rest two proposed pipelines the owners of which had given up on winning permits. The commission vacated its authorization of the PennEast Pipeline, which would have run from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. The agency also vacated its authorizations of the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG projects, which would have allowed export of LNG from Coos Bay, Ore.

Both PennEast and Pacific Connector were stymied by state and local opposition. Pembina Pipeline Corp. announced its decision to give up two weeks before the FERC meeting (OGJ Online, Dec. 2, 2021). Member companies in PennEast were NJR Pipeline Co., SJI Midstream, Southern Co. Gas, Spectra Energy Partners, and UGI Energy Services.