The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a settlement with Sunoco Pipeline that includes a $200,000 fine and further study on the Mariner East 1 pipeline.
As a reminder, Mariner East 1 first went into service in 1931. But the existing eight-inch pipeline was improved and refitted a few years ago for the transportation of ethane and propane from western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Delaware County. The Mariner East 2 and 2X pipelines mostly follow the existing Mariner East 1 right-of-way across Pennsylvania.
The settlement this week relates to an April 2017 leak along a segment of pipeline in Berks County. That 83-foot section has been replaced.
Here’s what you need to know:
The unanimous action by the Public Utility Commission counters claims that pipelines in Pennsylvania have little to no oversight. In fact, as this settlement shows, enforcement is strict, as is oversight, especially when combined with regulations administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The pipeline builder continues to cooperate with regulators at every level to ensure the safe, responsible development of this pipeline network, owning up to issues that arose here and agreeing to additional studies, beyond what is mandated, to ensure the integrity of the system and instill even more confidence in its operation.
While additional reviews will be done on Mariner East 1, don’t believe that simply because a pipeline is old that it is dangerous or past its useful life. (You can read more about what has been written about repurposing existing energy infrastructure here.) From 1997 to 2014, 22 pipelines were either converted or reversed, and from 2014 to 2017, 23 pipelines were repurposed.
The utilization of this process is essential to our energy infrastructure.
Any conversion or reversal of an already existing pipeline cannot move forward without approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also details what conditions a pipeline must meet in order to undergo a conversion or reversal. This protocol ensures that construction to update any line upholds the newest safety procedures.
The fact is reusing existing pipelines is a safe, effective technique that the oil and gas industry has employed successfully for years to keep pace with the growing consumer demand in a post shale-boom economy.
If you continue to write about this settlement, please feel free to use any of the information here and attribute it to Kurt Knaus, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. Thank you.
For more than four years, the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance has advocated for the safe, responsible development of critical infrastructure. For more information:
Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance
PEIA is a broad-based coalition of labor, agriculture, manufacturing and other business interests statewide that support private investment in pipeline and other energy infrastructure developments.