FERC has granted approval for a rate structure for MarkWest's $110 million Liberty Ethane Pipeline, which will transport ethane from Majorsville, WV, to Houston, PA, and give shippers the ability to tap into major pipeline systems that access key markets, including the U.S. Gulf Coast, Canada and other international markets.

MarkWest Energy Partners LP and MarkWest Liberty Ethane Pipeline LLC announced a binding open season for the 34-mile line in November (see Shale Daily, Nov. 8, 2013) and later extended the deadline to mid-December to gauge further interest.

The pipeline is part of the Denver-based operator's comprehensive "ethane solution" for the Northeast that includes purity ethane transportation, infrastructure and de-ethanization facilities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, as wet gas volumes climb in the Appalachian Basin

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Monday approved Markwest’s  petition for a declaratory order approving the overall tariff and rate structure for the new pipeline. The company has yet to announce the results of its open season, which ended Dec. 13. The line is expected to offer service for 40,000 b/d to pipeline connections, including Mariner West, Mariner East and the Appalachia-to-Texas Express Pipelines (see Shale Daily, Nov. 1, 2013).

The rates will be those agreed upon in transportation service agreements with shippers. The pipeline is seeking 90% firm commitments, with 10% to be available to uncommitted shippers. Markwest said that “issuing a declaratory order [is] procedurally appropriate for a new oil pipeline entrant . . . because [the pipeline] needs to acquire and guarantee financing in order to begin construction.”

MarkWest is moving forward on Mariner West with Sunoco Logistics Partners LP to deliver ethane to Sarnia, Ontario, while Mariner East will carry liquids from Houston to Sunoco's Marcus Hook facility near Pittsburgh. The Atex Express, an Enterprise Products Partners LP venture, which has started accepting ethane (see Shale Daily, Dec. 5, 2013), will transport liquids from Houston to its complex at Mont Belvieu, TX.