Marcus Hook: Lifeline from a pipeline


The impact of increased production of natural gas in Pennsylvania can be seen in the changing skyline of Marcus Hook. Thousands of workers are reshaping the former Sunoco oil refinery on the banks of the Delaware River. At Energy Transfer, we believe the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex can become the premier hub for natural gas liquids on the East Coast, made possible by the Mariner East pipeline system safely delivering the energy that drives our nation and fuels our everyday lives.

Improvements at the facility have required nearly 9 million man hours, involving more than 5,000 individual workers. The facility began receiving propane in January 2015, and it ships approximately 70,000 barrels a day of propane and ethane for distribution to local, regional and international markets. The facility commissioned a first-of-its-kind ethane truck-loading rack to complement its existing terminal that supplies propane for local and regional delivery.

In April 2019, Energy Transfer announced a project labor agreement (PLA) with the Philadelphia Building Trades, an association of some 50 local unions, for work on the MHIC. The two-year, $200 million agreement is estimated to create 1,200 jobs.

Seasonally dependent, approximately 200 trucks per day pick up propane for delivery to markets in and around Pennsylvania.

There are other industries benefiting from the revitalization at MHIC, including maritime-related jobs such as ship agents, cargo surveyors, tug assists, ship chandlers and launch companies.

In November 2018, the team at MHIC was presented with the Top Gold Star ZISA Award for more than 2 million injury-free hours on the Mariner East project. The award was presented by the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee (NMAPC) to everyone who made this achievement possible: Energy Transfer, Nooter Construction and the Philadelphia Building Trades. This amazing number of hours was a record breaker on NMAPC charts, and presented at the Zero Injury Safety Award (ZISA) gala.

The Marcus Hook Industrial Complex (MHIC), formally the Marcus Hook Refinery, was built in 1902 on an 82-acre plot purchased by Joseph Newton Pew’s Sun Oil Co. Initially dedicated exclusively to the processing of light sweet crude oil found in Texas, it became highly advanced in the field for petroleum production. In 1937 the first catalytic cracker went into operation, enabling the facility to process 15,000 barrels of petroleum daily. During World War II, Sun Oil Co. employees at Marcus Hook processed more jet fuel for the Allies than any other refinery.

Nine times during 1942 and 1943, tankers of the Sun Oil fleet were struck by U-boat attacks, and four were sunk. Those encounters cost the lives of 141 Sun seamen, and in 1949 a statue was erected to honor those lives. It still stands today at the entrance of our facility. The attacks, while devastating, did not prevent the Sun fleet from shipping more than 41 million barrels of petroleum over 2.3 million miles of ocean during the war. As an operating refinery at its height under Sunoco Inc., the refinery processed 175,000 barrels of crude oil per day. In perspective, that is equivalent to filling up 252,000 cars with gasoline, 1,500 flights from Philadelphia International Airport with jet fuel or 300,000 homes with heating oil.

The refinery was idled in 2011 and was acquired in 2012 by Sunoco Logistics, which recognized its value in the shale gas era. Sunoco Logistics merged with Energy Transfer in April 2017.


The next several years were marked by dozens of headlines touting the economic revitalization brought by the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, including the creation of hundreds of new jobs and the economic injection of a new workforce in the Delaware County region.

Delaware County Councilman Dave White

Feb. 2015

Five years ago, refineries were closing, people were losing jobs and nearby businesses were also suffering. The addition of new jobs exemplifies the continued growth and rebirth of the Marcus Hook facility, an emerging energy hub in the United States, and the County Council’s commitment to seeing this growth continue. We know there is an emerging global interest in the energy marketplace, and Delaware County is positioned to be a major player. This is a huge step in the revitalization of our waterfront.

As part of the Mariner East project, the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex is revitalizing this former refinery into a world-class natural gas liquids (NGL) hub. To achieve this, our facility has built new processing units, including an ethane/propane splitter and ethane and propane chilling and refrigerated storage.

Going back to 2013, we have built six tanks storing approximately 3 million barrels of propane, ethane and butane to support our Mariner East 1 and Mariner East 2 pipeline systems, in addition to existing storage capacity of 2 million barrels in underground caverns. Energy Transfer has also built a fractionator at MHIC to process natural gas liquids that it will transport along Mariner East 2 from western Pennsylvania.