A pipeline project to deliver Marcellus Shale ethane from Pennsylvania to Canadian markets was announced Tuesday by MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP.

Project Mariner West would deliver ethane from MarkWest Liberty’s Houston, PA, processing and fractionation complex to Sarnia, ON. The pipeline is being developed “at the request of Marcellus producer customers and is supported by Sarnia ethane consumers,” said MarkWest Liberty, which is a partnership of MarkWest Energy Partners LP and The Energy & Minerals Group.

“Project Mariner West has the advantage of allowing us to modify our existing pipeline facilities to reach Sarnia, Canada where there is a market for Marcellus ethane,” said Sunoco Logistics CEO Lynn L. Elsenhans. “Our existing infrastructure is well positioned to provide an efficient solution for producers to move ethane to Sarnia, as well as across Pennsylvania to a Delaware River marine port to access multiple markets.”

The Mariner West pipeline would use new and existing pipelines to transport up to 65,000 b/d of ethane by the second half of 2012. According to MarkWest Liberty, Mariner West is an expansion of Project Mariner, designed to transport ethane produced in the Marcellus Shale to U.S. Gulf Coast and international markets by mid-2013 (see Daily GPI, March 4; June 3, 2010).

To support ethane deliveries to Canadian markets in 2012, “minor modifications” are to be made to the MarkWest Liberty natural gas liquids (NGL) processing complexes, which include installing ethane extraction facilities at the Houston complex to deliver ethane to Mariner West earlier than would be required for deliveries to Project Mariner.

In addition, a 25-mile pipeline from the Marcellus Shale complex would be built to an interconnection with an existing Sunoco Logistics pipeline at Vanport, PA. The ethane then would be transported from Vanport to markets in Sarnia using existing Sunoco Logistics pipelines, which would be modified for ethane service.

“When combined with our growing NGL pipeline network in the Marcellus and our highly integrated Houston fractionation and marketing complex, Mariner West provides a very significant advantage to Marcellus producers,” said MarkWest CEO Frank Semple.