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Sunoco Launches Another Open Season for Beleaguered Mariner East System

Sunoco Pipeline LP late Friday launched a binding open season for additional shipper commitments on its Mariner East pipeline system, which has been plagued by legal and regulatory delays. 

In a brief announcement, the Energy Transfer LP subsidiary said the open season would allow it to “take advantage of new opportunities to add additional product commitments to the pipeline, which is nearing completion.” The company is soliciting commitments for natural gas liquids service on its ME 2 project to destination facilities in Marcus Hook, PA, where it operates a storage and distribution terminal, and nearby Claymont, DE. 

The open season started at 3 p.m. ET on Friday with no closing date set. It comes as Sunoco is battling yet another effort by alarmed residents in southeast Pennsylvania, who have petitioned the state Public Utility Commission to shut down operations on the 70,000 b/d ME 1 and construction work on ME 2 and 2X.

ME 2 was originally scheduled to enter service two years ago, but regulatory and legal issues prevented that. ME 2 and 2X would have a combined capacity of 525,000 b/d.

Residents from Pennsylvania's Delaware and Chester counties, where construction spills, water issues and sinkholes have raised local ire and slowed down the ME 2 and 2X projects, filed an emergency petition and formal complaint on Nov. 19, arguing that Sunoco’s public awareness program fails to adequately inform communities about how to deal with a major leak or rupture. Hearings before an administrative law judge (ALJ) were held last week and a decision on whether to shut down operations is expected in the coming days.

An ALJ halted ME 1 operations and ME 2 and 2X construction in May when a state senator filed an emergency petition and complaint questioning the safety of the entire system after sinkholes formed near the project in a heavily populated area. ME 1 has been offline for months this year due to that suspension and another related to the sinkholes earlier this year, forcing its customers to find workarounds.

Sunoco started commissioning part of the ME 2 system last month, when line fill got underway. Facing delays, the company repurposed a refined products pipeline to start partial service by the end of the year by tapping parts of ME 2 that aren’t affected by regulatory issues. ME 2X is expected to enter service late next year.

To receive copies of the open season documents, Energy Transfer said potential shippers must sign a confidentiality agreement. Interested parties can obtain those documents by emailing marinereastos@energytransfer.com

ME 2 and 2X would run parallel for about 350 miles to move ethane, butane and propane from processing facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex near Philadelphia.

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