Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. federal energy regulators told Energy Transfer Partners late on Friday that the company must file information about possible alternatives for a second pipe it wants to drill under the Tuscarawas River in Ohio as part of its Rover natural gas pipeline project.
Those alternatives include completing the current drilling, finding another location to cross under the river or go with just one pipe across the river.
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also told ETP’s Rover unit that it must file some analysis on residential water wells in the vicinity of the Tuscarawas River drilling.
On Jan. 24, FERC ordered Rover to cease drilling of a second pipe under the Tuscarawas after the company lost some drilling fluid - a mixture of clay and water - in the hole under 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 billion Rover project is designed to carry up to 3.25 billion cubic feet per day 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.
Officials at ETP were not immediately available for comment. Last week, the company said it still expected to complete the Rover 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 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