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Pipeline project could bring thousands of construction jobs to Burrell Township

Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. of Philadelphia has announced plans for a $2.5 billion pipeline transportation project, part of which will run through Burrell Township, it was announced at the Nov. 19 regular meeting of the township supervisors.

Dubbed the Mariner East 2 project, the pipeline will run parallel to the existing Mariner East 1 line. It will deliver natural gas liquids such as propane, butane and ethane from drilling sites in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio to Sunoco Logistics’ storage facility at Marcus Hook Industrial Complex along the Delaware River in eastern Pennsylvania.

From there, the liquid can be stored and distributed to domestic and international markets, or it can be used for manufacturing uses locally and regionally.

The start date for local construction is not yet known. Statewide, the project could begin as early as December.

“We are a Pennsylvania company investing in infrastructure to allow (Pennsylvania) resources to be marketed in Pennsylvania rather than sending them down to the Gulf Coast,” said Jeffrey Shields, publicist for Sunoco Logistics, when contacted via email. “We believe that the Mariner projects, especially Mariner East 2, will provide the natural gas industry in (Western Pennsylvania) much needed outlets for NGLs (natural gas liquids), give consumers greater access to propane, and also encourage new manufacturing enterprises in southeast (Pennsylvania).”

Mariner East 2 will follow the route of Mariner East 1 across Pennsylvania for the most part, to minimize the impact, but Shields said certain sections might follow an alternate route.

“They are in the process of beginning a second pipeline to parallel the existing one, to transport additional Marcellus well wet gas,” said Supervisors Chairman Larry Henry. “Anyone living along that right-of-way will be receiving notices of Sunoco’s intent.” Public meetings likely will be planned somewhere between Burrell Township and Armagh, Henry said.

“There’s a significant portion of that pipeline in Burrell Township, and for the convenience of the public, why don’t we ask them to do at least one here” in Burrell Township, Supervisor Tony Distefano suggested. “In Burrell Township, there’s going to be a lot more property owners impacted than say, in East or West Wheatfield (townships).”

Henry suggested a meeting might be held in a central location, such as Blairsville High School or the Black Lick Volunteer Fire Company fire hall.

Related: Sunoco plans 2.4 million barrel NGL storage facility in Philadelphia

Construction of the second pipeline has the potential to bring thousands of jobs into the area during construction, as well as adding several hundred permanent positions in Pennsylvania.

According to Shields, “Economic impact on individual counties varies, as some of our contractors have set up offices in certain counties, and service and retail businesses tend to benefit when construction is taking place. We have worked closely with the building trades in the construction of Mariner East 1, and those workers have benefited across the state, particularly in southwest and southeast (Pennsylvania).”

The current pipeline crosses Route 22 at the Comfort Inn in Burrell Township. But, according to a map Sunoco Logistics submitted to the township, the second line will diverge a bit along the Route 22 corridor, veering off near Industrial Park Road and crossing Route 22 near Snyder Lane before realigning with Mariner East 1.

Though the pipeline will likely be bored under Route 22, the construction still may cause disruptions along area roadways.

“Every time there’s a pipeline project, there’s a lot of traffic with it, a lot of equipment, materials,” said Distefano.

Though the project may cause some inconvenience traffic-wise, Henry said he doesn’t expect much displacement on residential property.

“They already have a line going through and a right-of-way, and they’re going to require a slight bit more right-of-way, and the new line is going to be 36 inches from the old one, so it’s really not going to affect a whole lot,” said Henry.

According to Henry, the project will require an additional 25 feet of right-of-way during construction of the parallel line. But, once it’s completed, the right-of-way would be reduced again. Henry said he thought the company would retain an extra 10 feet of right-of-way.

Mariner East 1 has been in service since the 1930s, according to Henry, but it hadn’t undergone any major updates in the last few decades — until repairs and renovations were completed in the last few years.

The repaired lines will begin transporting propane within a month, according to Shields.

The second pipeline was needed due to the influx of Marcellus gas being harvested in the shale areas of the tri-state region.

“They don’t have enough capacity in this line with the amount of Marcellus (gas) they’re putting into it,” said Henry.

Mariner East 1 has an 8-inch line that can carry 70,000 barrels of liquid per day. Mariner East 2 will be constructed of 12- to 14-inch pipe and will have the ability to carry more than triple that amount — 275,000 barrels per day.

“The bigger the pipe, the less pump stations they have to put in,” Henry explained.

The Mariner East project cost total, including the recent repairs made to Mariner East 1, is $3 billion. Sunoco Logistics hopes to have Mariner East 2 operational by the end of 2016.

 

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