Who built and operates the Mariner East system?
Energy Transfer, which has more than eight decades’ experience building and operating pipelines, operates the Mariner East pipeline system. We own and operate one of the largest and most diversified portfolios of energy assets in the United States, with a strategic footprint in all of the major domestic production basins, including the Marcellus Shale. We began in 1996 as a small natural gas pipeline operator and today own and operate more than 90,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil pipelines — carrying approximately 30 percent of the natural gas and crude oil that fuel our nation’s economy every day.
What are natural gas liquids?
The Mariner East pipeline system transports natural gas liquids (NGLs), also known as liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs). NGLs include propane, ethane, butane and natural gasoline. In certain shale areas, such as western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio, natural gas liquids are found in abundance with traditional natural gas, or methane. They are described as liquids because they are moved through pipes in liquid form. In the atmosphere, these substances usually take the form of a gas.
What are natural gas liquids used for?
Propane is a common fuel for home and industrial heating, cooking, crop drying and motor vehicles. Propane can be used as a basic material in the manufacturing of chemicals such as propylene, which is used to make plastics, textiles and many other goods. It can also be used as a peaking fuel in electric power utilities. Over 95 percent of propane consumed in the U.S. is produced in North America, and today approximately 200 trucks leave the Marcus Hook Terminal per day with propane for domestic/local use.
Ethane has uses as a fuel for generating electricity and is widely used as an essential building block of plastics, textiles, detergents and coatings. There are also a number of trucks delivering ethane locally out of the Marcus Hook Terminal for use as a refrigerant. Butane and natural gasoline can be blended as an ingredient in gasoline, and butane can also be used as a fuel in industrial applications and as a refrigerant, and it has many other chemical applications.
Increased access to these economical supplies of NGLs will continue to attract manufacturers into the mid-Atlantic region. For example, the CPV Fairview Energy Center in Cambria County, Pa., receives NGLs from the Mariner East pipeline system that will be used to generate enough electricity to power over 1 million homes and businesses.
How does Mariner East benefit Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware?
The Mariner East system is helping to sustain and develop the natural gas and related industries in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware. Energy Transfer has more than 1,200 employees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware.
Our total investment in Pennsylvania for the combined Mariner East pipeline system is expected to be more than $3 billion. The construction of the Mariner East system generated a one-time economic impact of nearly $9.1 billion in the commonwealth.
The construction of the system supported 57,070 direct, indirect and induced jobs from 2013 to 2019, with earnings of $2.7 billion impacting multiple industries.
Construction expenditures generated estimated one-time tax revenues of $122 million for the commonwealth over the length of the construction period from the direct, indirect and induced economic activity.
How does Energy Transfer Support Pennsylvania?
Our presence as a corporate citizen, employer and benefactor in Pennsylvania has had a positive impact on its communities and citizens. Over the last five years, Energy Transfer has contributed more than $5.8 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy, including more than $7 million in donations to local causes from our Energy Transfer/Sunoco Foundation and corporate commitments. From 2013 to 2019, we contributed:
- $3.7 billion in taxable wages
- $50 million in taxes paid
- $1.9 billion in sales tax
- $52 million in property tax
- $7 million in donations
The Mariner East projects, the fractionation facility and the associated improvements at the Marcus Hook Terminal produced $140 million to $210 million of ongoing annual economic impacts in the commonwealth, supporting 360 to 530 direct, indirect and induced jobs with earnings of $30 million to $45 million.
The critical infrastructure built as part of the Mariner East pipeline system:
- Increases the reliable supply of propane to Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, including planned offtake points in Lebanon and Berks counties, exerting downward pressure on prices
- Will provide ethane to fuel an electricity-generating plant in Cambria County, Pa.
- Increases the supply of butane to the region for use in gasoline
- Provides feedstock for potential manufacturing businesses in the state
- Keeps the resources of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania for marketing, distribution and use for manufacturing businesses, rather than sending business, jobs and revenue to the Gulf Coast
All of this helps increase our energy independence and has helped make the U.S. the No. 1 producer of natural gas in the world, leaving us less dependent on foreign energy sources while reducing our carbon emissions.
How does this fit into Energy Transfer’s long-term strategy for the Marcus Hook Terminal?
We believe the Marcus Hook Terminal – the former refinery built in 1902 – can become the preeminent hub for natural gas liquids on the East Coast. There are a number of development opportunities at the terminal for industrial processing facilities, such as a propane cracker to create propylene. This new market can anchor the resurgence of manufacturing in the region and create hundreds of additional high-quality jobs.
The Marcus Hook Terminal 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. In December 2018, the facility commissioned a first-of-its-kind ethane truck-loading rack to complement its existing propane terminal that supplies propane for local and regional delivery.
We are very proud of our work to revitalize the Marcus Hook facility and surrounding communities. Our infrastructure was the catalyst that transformed the former Marcus Hook Refinery into the current Marcus Hook Terminal, a world-class energy and petrochemicals hub that required 9 million man hours involving more than 5,000 workers.
Does the pipeline system deliver only to the Marcus Hook Terminal, or will there be interim access points for regional propane suppliers?
On the Mariner East pipeline system, we initially expect to have offtake points in Berks County and Lebanon County for local propane retailers, and in Cambria County for an electricity-generating station powered in part by ethane. At the Marcus Hook Terminal, the natural gas liquids are distributed to destinations in Pennsylvania and other domestic and international markets.
How safe are natural gas liquids pipelines?
Pipelines safely transport large volumes of petroleum products over long distances every day. “Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products,” according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation responsible for enforcing pipeline safety. An ordinary pipeline can safely transport the equivalent of 750 tanker trucks per day, or a train of 75 tank railcars a day, as noted by PHMSA.
In 2015 there were more than 2.4 million miles of petroleum pipelines in the U.S., and natural gas liquid pipelines accounted for more than 62,000 miles of those pipelines, according to the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines. America’s pipelines shipped more than 750 billion gallons of crude oil and liquid petroleum products – including propane, ethane, butane, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other products – in 2015.
Our Mariner East pipeline system is regulated for safety by PHMSA at the federal level and by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at the state level.
How does Energy Transfer’s safety program measure up to industry standards?
Energy Transfer meets or exceeds all federal safety requirements, and a safety inspection of the construction of the Mariner East pipeline system by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission resulted in no adverse findings.
In 2015 and 2017, a Chester County township commissioned an independent study of our safety practices and integrity management. It found that Energy Transfer meets or exceeds federal safety requirements at every level. Here is one passage from the 2015 report by Accufacts Inc.:
“It is Accufacts’ opinion for the section of 8-inch pipeline that crosses the Township, that Sunoco far exceeds a number of requirements of the federal pipeline safety regulations, that it embraces the intent of integrity management, or IM, regulations that are meant to prevent pipe mainline rupture failure, and that their IM approach is currently prudent.”
Accufacts performed a similar analysis for the township on Mariner East 2, with similar conclusions published in early 2017: “Accufacts finds that Sunoco has incorporated additional processes in excess of minimum federal pipeline safety regulations that should assure the safety of this proposal across the Township.”
A Delaware County Council-sponsored risk assessment has confirmed that the Mariner East 2 pipeline is safe and poses no great risk. The 79-page report paid for by county taxpayers found that risk from common sources such as traffic accidents, house fires and falling down stairs is 20 to 35 times greater than a pipeline. This comparison was made with the assumption that someone is standing directly above the pipeline 24 hours a day, proving that in reality the pipeline is even safer than the assessment calculates.
Delaware County’s independent risk assessment was conducted by G2 Integrated Solutions, a Texas-based company that provides expertise to pipeline operators, utility companies and others related to the energy industry to manage risk, ensure compliance and optimize performance.
Does Energy Transfer conduct water testing along the Mariner East pipeline system route?
Yes. We conduct testing of water wells along the Mariner East pipeline system in Pennsylvania and fulfill our monitoring, testing and reporting obligations per the protocols as agreed upon with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
What measures does Energy Transfer take to protect the environment?
Protection of people, property and the environment is a core value for all Energy Transfer employees. We choose our pipeline routes to avoid sensitive habitats whenever possible. We often use existing rights-of-way to limit disturbance during construction. And we work with all regulatory agencies to fully comply with laws and regulations and to protect sensitive areas.
Our construction contractors are experienced pipeline builders who are trained and supervised to minimize environmental impacts during construction. We make every effort to thoroughly clean our construction sites and restore the land to its original condition.
The 300-plus-mile pipeline route used over 80 percent existing rights-of-way or other utility corridors, minimizing environmental impact. When possible, we diverted the existing corridor to avoid wetlands and waterways, sensitive species and habitats and cultural resources. Our construction processes, such as horizontal directional drilling, allowed us to avoid sensitive areas and minimize impact, and replace or restore habitat where affected.
We had environmental inspectors at construction sites who were responsible for holding our construction methods and erosion-control devices to the specific requirements of our water-crossing and earth-disturbance permits. The comprehensive, 2.5-year-long environmental permitting process included local, state and federal agencies, along with full public participation.
How do you protect wetlands and other water resources?
The total wetland area of 118 acres was reduced to 36 acres of impact by using approximately 800 drills/bores to bury the pipeline well below the surface, narrowing the construction right-of-way in certain sensitive areas and rerouting around others.
The horizontal directional drilling or boring technique allowed us to install the pipe deep below (20-180 feet) the surface and avoid disturbing wetlands and wildlife habitat.
Less than half an acre of wetlands, the approximate size of an NHL hockey rink, was converted from its original state. This total is divided among 19 wetlands over 12 counties.
Affected wetland was replaced and upgraded at a ratio of more than 5:1.
We have demonstrated total commitment to protection of public and private water supplies around the project with detailed plans.
Who regulates the Mariner East pipeline system?
Hazardous liquid transmission pipelines engaged in interstate transportation are regulated for safety purposes by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Typically, states will defer regulatory oversight of interstate transportation pipelines to PHMSA, whereas purely intrastate transportation pipelines are regulated in the state in which they operate by that state’s pipeline safety agency. The Mariner East pipeline system is somewhat unusual in that it is engaged in both interstate and intrastate transportation. In Pennsylvania, both the Public Utility Commission (PUC) and PHMSA have assumed regulatory oversight of the Mariner East pipeline system. Both agencies routinely inspect the Mariner East pipelines for compliance with state and federal regulations. Additionally, the PUC collects public utility tax on pipeline revenue and PHMSA collects an annual per mile fee to operate a pipeline.
Infrastructure development is governed by a combination of federal and state laws and regulations, county plans and local ordinances. Multiple federal and state agencies and commissions are involved in permitting and overseeing siting, construction, operation and maintenance of pipeline infrastructure. Numerous agencies also regulate the operations of pipeline and terminal assets through various types of permits, licenses, registrations and certifications.
We also file permits with, or follow guidelines by, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Public Health Management Corporation, County Conservation Districts, Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law and Title 25 of the Pennsylvania Code – Chapters 102 and 105.
What construction methods were used for the Mariner East pipeline system?
There were two main construction methods used in the construction of the pipeline system.
Most areas saw traditional, open-cut construction in which a right-of-way is cleared, graded and trenched. The pipe is laid out in sections alongside the trench, welded on-site, then lowered into the trench, filled back in with dirt and restored to its previous condition, wherever possible. Check out this video for typical construction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px5NpQGNKww&t=9s.
Another technique is drilling, which can be a horizontal boring or a horizontal directional drill (HDD), generally used to cross roads or environmentally sensitive areas, such as wetlands. This type of drilling is less invasive to the environment and to property than the typical open-trench method. In essence, this process involves establishing an entry/exit point, then precisely drilling a new bore.
New pipe is then pulled through the hole that was bored underground, up to 200 feet deep, depending on the area. In some cases, additional details need to be worked out with landowners, because a staging or laydown area is necessary in locations where we will insert and exit with the HDD. Any workspace disturbance will be restored. Check out this video for HDD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phM21mVPLsA&t=10s.
How did you choose a route for the pipeline?
Mariner East 2 used existing rights-of-way where possible, as recommended by the Pennsylvania Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force. We studied all reasonable route options, including the use of adjacent rights-of-way, such as electric power lines, highways, railroads and other pipelines. This reduced the amount of clearing required for the project, minimizing environmental disturbance and disruption to property owners. In Pennsylvania, we made reasonable efforts to place the route adjacent to our existing pipelines.
Who is the primary contact for affected property owners?
Each property owner will be assigned a specific land agent to serve as primary contact. In the event the land agent cannot address all your questions or concerns, please call the Energy Transfer information line at (855) 430-4491 and your Mariner East issue will be directed to the right person.