Mariner East 1 pipeline completed; now shipping ethane, propane

Sunoco Logistics Partners LP said Thursday Mariner East 1, the first pipeline in the larger Mariner East system, is now transporting both ethane and propane to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Delaware County.

The completion of the pipeline, which originates in Washington County, officially marks the connection between natural gas and natural gas liquids produced in Western Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region and both domestic and international markets.

Sunoco said in a news release the pipeline is approaching full operations as it completed loading Thursday of the first waterborne ethane shipment.

Mariner East 1 is the first phase of the multifaceted Mariner East project.

Sunoco Logistics said, with Mariner East 1 up and running, the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex is now positioned as the East Coast hub for processing and storing propane, ethane and other natural gas liquids from the shale basins for distribution to local, domestic and international markets.

The 70,000 barrels per day of ethane and propane capacity for Mariner East 1 is available for both intrastate and interstate service.

The completion announcement was hailed by Gov. Tom Wolf and other public officials as a vital piece of infrastructure for furthering Pennsylvania’s energy and manufacturing sectors.

“The opening of the Mariner East pipeline represents a vital first step in redirecting Pennsylvania’s abundant natural gas resources to critical markets here at home. Sunoco Logistics is making a $3 billion investment in Pennsylvania’s energy economy by keeping Marcellus Shale resources for manufacturing right here in Pennsylvania, rather than sending this business, revenue and jobs to other states,” Wolf said.

“The immediate effect will be the creation of 290 to 440 permanent jobs. The long-term impact from operation of this pipeline is an estimated $100 million to $150 million influx into Pennsylvania’s economy,” the governor added.

“The completion of Mariner East 1 will help create jobs in manufacturing, engineering and operations for many Pennsylvanians,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

 Closer to home, Washington County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Kotula, who also is a member of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, said the pipeline’s opening is a boost for the county and the region.

“Western Pennsylvania continues to feel the effects of low commodity prices and a drilling slowdown because of overcapacity,” Kotula said in a statement. “To succeed in this lower price environment, we have to move products to market. This first shipment of regionally produced ethane from Marcus Hook is just the start. Western Pennsylvania needs infrastructure like the Mariner East systems to move our gas so we can continue to thrive.”

Mariner East 1 began shipping propane in December 2014, serving local and regional propane shippers as well as the international market. Ethane shipments commenced last month, and the first tanker carrying ethane to Europe departed from Marcus Hook on Thursday.

Mariner East 2, an expansion of the Mariner East system with origin points in Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, will add off-take points for propane shippers in central and eastern Pennsylvania. It is expected to be completed in the first half of 2017 and will add an additional capacity of approximately 275,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids, primarily propane and butane, from both the Marcellus and Utica shales.

Mariner East 2 will provide both interstate service and intrastate service within Pennsylvania and has the potential to expand to 450,000 barrels per day.

“Mariner East 1 is an important milestone for the natural gas and manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania. As expanded by Mariner East 2, this service will create access to new and existing markets, provide reliable, cost-effective heating fuel for homes and businesses, and supply the raw materials that will lead to new manufacturing opportunities and growth,” said Michael J. Hennigan, Sunoco Logistics’ president and chief executive officer.