Judge Halts Work on Energy Transfer Partners' Mariner East NGL Pipeline

Reuters, July 26, 2017

An administrative law judge temporarily halted work on Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) LP's Sunoco Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline in a southeast Pennsylvania town due to a dispute over the location of a valve and other equipment. The $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 pipeline is just one of ETP projects, which include the Dakota Access crude line from North Dakota to Illinois and the Rover natural gas pipe from Pennsylvania to Ontario, that have come under intense regulatory scrutiny over the past year. In Pennsylvania, West Goshen Township argued ETP's Sunoco Pipeline LP unit started work on the Mariner East 2 valve and other infrastructure in a location that violated a 2015 settlement agreement with the town.

The judge at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said in an order late Monday that Sunoco's customers would not suffer harm from a temporary injunction because horizontal directional drilling was already shut down in other parts of Chester County, where West Goshen is located, due to water contamination from inadvertent releases of drilling fluids.

"We look forward to demonstrating to the Public Utility Commission how we have complied at all times with our agreement with West Goshen Township," Jeff Shields, a spokesman for the Mariner project, said in an email.

The Mariner East 2 project across southern Pennsylvania will carry propane, butane and ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to an export terminal in Marcus Hook near Philadelphia. The company expects the project to enter service by the end of the third quarter. Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said it fined ETP $87,600 for one violation during construction of the Mariner East 2 pipe that affected a wetland in Cumberland County near Harrisburg, the state capital. The DEP also said it "anticipates additional enforcement actions against Sunoco."

Separately, ETP's $4.2 billion Rover natural gas pipeline faces sanctions for environmental violations in Ohio and a federal ban on new horizontal directional drilling activity that has delayed the anticipated start up of the project's first phase to the late summer from July. In addition, West Virginia told the company to stop some work on the Rover project for environmental violations in that state. ETP said it still expected the second and final phase of the Rover project to start up in November.

Shares of ETP were up 30 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $20.30 in afternoon trade on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Tom Brown)

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