Converting a 12-inch pipeline to transport NGLs | Energy Transfer

We would like to address the inaccurate claims that the recent change of our existing 12-inch pipeline from transporting refined products to natural gas liquids is against Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulations. Nothing could be further than the truth.

In fact, PHMSA released an advisory bulletin describing specific notification requirements and general operating and maintenance guidelines, as well as integrity management actions regarding flow reversals, product changes and conversion to service. Changing the type of product transported on a pipeline is commonly done in our industry, and has been for years.

PHMSA required that we take specific actions and submit a comprehensive plan to the regulatory agency before using the 12-inch pipeline, which was done prior to the change of product flow. PHMSA was satisfied with our approach to converting the 12-inch pipeline to transport natural gas liquids.

As former federal government safety regulator Brigham McCown points out in a recent column for Forbes, agencies such as PHMSA exist to regulate, inspect and audit pipeline companies, ensuring the safe delivery of energy. By working together with PHMSA and other regulatory agencies, we are committed to continuing an important industry track record of safety.

“Even as no single transportation system for resources is perfect, pipelines are impressively close. Since 2013, the data shows that over 99.999% of petroleum product made it end to end in pipelines without incident.”

It is important to note that we made $30 million worth of upgrades to the 12-inch pipeline in 2016. It is with these changes and working closely with PHMSA, that we began the flow of natural gas liquids through a portion of the pipeline as an interim solution to bring Mariner East 2 in service.

Additionally, West Goshen Township contracted an independent third-party agency to evaluate the safety of the upgraded 12-inch pipeline. This independent organization, Accufacts, specializes in technical and safety expertise in pipeline siting, design, operation and maintenance, emergency response and regulatory requirements.

Accufacts’ 2018 report concluded that the 12-inch pipeline meets and often exceeds federal safety regulations for high-volume liquid transmission pipeline service. The report showed that we went above and beyond federal standards to ready this pipeline for the safe transportation of natural gas liquids. From the report:

  • “Sunoco meets and exceeds the requirements of federal pipeline safety regulations. These additional precautions reflect the level of respect that transporting such materials should require in a prudent pipeline operation. Accufacts thus concludes that the 12-inch repurpose project spanning West Goshen Township meets or exceeds the prudent technical approaches commensurate with the safe transportation of high volume liquids.”
  • “For the repurpose project, Sunoco has met and exceeded federal requirements in the important integrity assessment validation method utilizing hydrotesting to verify the pipe’s integrity and maximum operating pressure.”

At Energy Transfer, we are proud of the work we’ve done to bring this pipeline safely into service. We remain committed to Pennsylvania, its regulatory agencies and its local communities, and we plan to continue this momentum as we finish construction on the remaining portions of the Mariner East 2 pipeline system.