Sunoco Logistics announces second, bigger natural gas liquids pipeline

SXL_ME-Project-Map_FINALBy Katie Colaneri

Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics has announced a new $2.5 billion pipeline project to move natural gas liquids across the state.

“Mariner East 2” would start in Ohio, bringing ethane and propane through West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to an industrial complex on the Delaware River.

The 350-mile pipeline would run parallel to its predecessor, the Mariner East 1, but unlike that project,which involves reversing the flow of an existing line, this pipeline needs to be built from scratch.

Spokesman Jeff Shields says it would quadruple the amount of natural gas liquids flowing to Marcus Hook from 70,000 barrels a day to 275,000. Much of the ethane will be shipped overseas and some of the propane will feed markets on the East Coast.

Sunoco Logistics also announced plans for a propane manufacturing unit at the idled refinery in Marcus Hook. That facility will turn propane into propylene, a building block for plastics and fabrics.

“That also enables a whole manufacturing chain that we think is really what people have been talking about when you’re talking about a manufacturing renaissance in Southeast Pennsylvania,” Shields said.

That project is still in “active development” and there is no timeline for when the former oil refinery will start processing propane.

The Mariner East 1 project awaits final approval from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and has been met with strong opposition in Chester County. Residents there objected to the company’s push to bypass local zoning laws to build pump and valve control stations for the pipeline in residential neighborhoods.Sunoco Logistics expects Mariner East 2 to come online in 2016, pending federal and state regulatory approvals.

Initially, Sunoco Logistics had approached both the PUC and local zoning boards for approval. This time, Shields says the company is going straight to state regulators.

“We remain willing to work with each of those municipalities and all the communities and will continue to do that,” he said.

Since it crosses state lines, the Mariner East 2 will also require approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Shields said the company will begin seeking easements from landowners immediately.

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