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Pennsylvania Seeking More Information on Shell’s Ethane Pipeline Permit Applications

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has sent three technical deficiency letters asking Shell Pipeline Company LP to address gaps in its water obstruction and encroachment permit applications for the Falcon Ethane Pipeline System.

The system would serve Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC’s multi-billion dollar ethane cracker that’s currently under construction in Beaver County, PA. DEP said it identified technical deficiencies with the applications and has requested more information about project activities in Allegheny, Beaver and Washington counties.

While it’s a normal part of the permitting process, it’s unclear how the request might affect the project’s permitting timeline, if at all. Shell said it would “work diligently” with the agency to provide the information. The letters were sent on June 1, and Shell has 60 days from that date to submit the information. It can also file for an extension.

A company official said last week at Hart Energy’s Dug East Conference and Exhibition in Pittsburgh that Shell expects to begin construction on Falcon Ethane in 2019 and be finished with the project by the end of the year. It is slated to be commissioned in 2020.

Shell filed for its permits late last year. Major Projects Manager Doug Scott said at the conference last week that the company anticipates receiving its permits “in the next few months.”

DEP has asked the company to address and provide more information on dozens of deficiencies. They include further identifying and describing wastewater discharge; stormwater management plans; better detailing the presence of wetlands in the project area; the impacts the pipeline might have on wetlands and public water systems; and addressing zoning issues along the route and certain public comments, among many other issues.

The 97.5 mile, two-leg system would run south in western Pennsylvania to pick up ethane from MarkWest Energy Partners LP’s Houston Processing and Fractionation facility in Washington County. It would also stretch west into Ohio, where it would pick up ethane produced in that state and in West Virginia at MarkWest’s Cadiz Complex in Harrison County, OH, and from Utica East Ohio’s nearby Harrison Hub fractionation plant in Scio, OH. The 12-inch diameter system would have the capacity to move about 100,000 b/d of ethane. 

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