Sinkholes Develop Around Mariner East 1 Pipeline in Southeast Penna.

by Duane Nichols on March 11, 2018

Is construction of Mariner East 2 causing the sinkholes on Mariner East 1?

‘It’s crazy, man’: Sinkholes, Sunoco’s pipeline inspection stir safety fears in Chester County, PA

From an Article by Jon Hurdle, NPR StateImpact PA, March 9, 2018

Sunoco scrambled to inspect an ageing pipeline on Friday in the backyards of Chester County homes where drilling for two new pipelines has caused several sinkholes to open up.

Yellow backhoes dug holes in several places among homes along Lisa Drive and Lynetree Drive in West Whiteland Township after the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ordered Sunoco to temporarily halt operations of the Mariner East 1 pipeline. The PUC cited the risk of what it called “catastrophic results” if the pipeline leaks any of its natural gas liquids.

The risk to the older pipeline stemmed from the sinkholes that have appeared during the construction of the Mariner East 2 and 2X pipelines, the PUC said. The first holes appeared in late 2017 and have multiplied over the last week, prompting the regulator’s order that Sunoco stop operating the line while it ensures its integrity for a mile on either side of the sinkholes.

The PUC, in its order on Wednesday, said the sinkholes developed because of unstable geology in the area.

Lisa Drive resident T.J. Allen’s backyard is dominated by a fenced enclosure which he says contains two sinkholes. About 10 feet from his house, another hole surrounded by orange fencing had been filled with concrete by Sunoco in an attempt to protect Mariner East 1 from the sinkholes a few feet away, Allen said.

The combination of sinkholes and a pipeline from the 1930s, which is when Mariner East 1 was built, makes Allen fear for his safety and that of his 72-year-old mother, who lives with him. “They put us all in danger, didn’t evacuate us, didn’t even tell me, didn’t knock on our door,” said Allen, 46, an independent construction contractor. “It’s crazy, man.”

Allen said he’s ready to leave at a moment’s notice. “It feels as though at any minute I might have to run out my house and get my valuables together,” he said. “I have a go bag in there with my medication, my mom’s medication, my deed, everything.”

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said there are only three holes, all of which have been grouted and secured. Shields rejected complaints from some residents who say that people are asked to leave the area where Sunoco and its contractors are working.

The suspension of Mariner East 1 operations for an estimated 10-14 days will allow Sunoco to show that the pipeline is safe, as it has been since it was built, Shields said.

“This period should allow us to share what our professional geologist has established to date – that the Mariner East 1 pipeline is stable, is located in suitably safe geology, and will continue to operate safely as it has done for decades,” Shields said in a statement.

He said the company has no reports of structural damage to homes on Lisa Drive. But Andrew Neuwirth, an attorney for Allen’s next-door neighbor, Russell March, said there is damage to drywall, a chimney and a fireplace in his client’s home that has coincided with the appearance of the sink holes.

“All these homes have lost a tremendous amount of value as a result of this,” Neuwirth said in an interview on Lisa Drive. He said he is in touch with Sunoco’s lawyers but will be taking “further action.”

John Mattia, whose home also backs on to the sinkhole site, says he doubts he could sell his house if he wanted to. “I’m not sure selling is a realistic possibility at this point,” said Mattia, 48, who has lived in the house for 17 years and raised his children there. “I am not sure what action we are going to take at this point. The whole thing is very depressing.”

Mattia said he had agreed to Sunoco’s compensation for taking an easement on his land, but said the sum was lower than he wanted and that the company had threatened to take the land by eminent domain if he did not accept the offer.

The sinkholes and the remedial work on the older line are taking place about 200 yards from a rail line carrying Amtrak and Septa passenger trains. The new pipelines are due to run underneath the rail line.

The PUC said it identified three sinkholes and an unspecified number of additional holes that on March 5 were “developing” on the south side of Lisa Drive. Shields said the additional holes were identified before construction started and so are not related to the drilling.

In response, the water utility Aqua sent a crew to Lisa Drive on Friday to prepare its water main there to be shut off in the event that it was compromised by a sink hole. “Aqua is taking precautionary steps to reduce to the impact to our infrastructure and the surrounding community should the Mariner sink holes cause a failure of our infrastructure,” said Aqua spokeswoman Donna Alston.

Sunoco resumed construction on the new Mariner East lines in February after a month-long shutdown ordered by the PA Department of Environmental Protection in response to multiple violations.

Mariner East 2, carrying propane, ethane and butane across southern Pennsylvania, is due for completion by the end of the second quarter of this year.



“Devastation”: Atlantic Sunrise pipeline construction impacts Quittapahilla Creek and family farm

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

NGI Update April 5, 2018 at 5:38 pm

Mariner East Remains Offline, Raising Questions on Longer-Term Impacts

From an Article by Jamison Conklin, Natural Gas Intelligence, April 5, 2018

Ethane and propane transport on the Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) Mariner East (ME) 1 pipeline remains suspended more than a month after Pennsylvania regulators ordered a halt to operations because of sinkholes, with little clarity on exactly when service will resume.

Three sinkholes, one of which came within 10 feet of a house’s foundation, formed in West Whiteland Township near the area where horizontal directional drilling for the ME 2X pipeline was underway. That prompted the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to issue an emergency order in March directing ETP subsidiary Sunoco Pipeline LP to conduct an investigation of the integrity of ME 1 and geophysical testing in the construction area.

The investigation was initially estimated by the state to last up to 14 days, but ETP said it could last up to six more weeks.

PUC spokesperson Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said the emergency order and the suspension of natural gas liquids (NGL) transport on ME 1 remains in full effect. Under the terms of the order, Sunoco can’t resume operations on the system until regulators are satisfied with the test results and any corrective actions necessary. The order notes that Sunoco must share all of its findings and meet regularly with the PUC.

The ongoing suspension indicates that various conditions, all of which are subject to the review and approval of the PUC, have not been met by Sunoco.

“We are working with the PUC and appropriate agencies to complete the necessary testing and remediation in order to ensure integrity of the pipeline before putting it back into service,” said ETP spokesperson Lisa Dillinger. “We expect this work to take up to four-to-six weeks depending on what we do, or do not find.”

Dillinger said the preliminary investigation does “not indicate any impacts from the subsurface area to any of the homes nearby.” The PUC Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement is also conducting an independent investigation. A flurry of activity has occurred in the residential area as a result, which has partly spurred a number of opposition filings on the PUC docket by various individuals, townships and a homeowners’ association.

ME 2 and 2X, pipelines that are being built in the same right-of-way as ME 1, would run parallel for about 350 miles to move NGLs from processing facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex for domestic and international distribution. Companies including Ineos Group Ltd. and Borealis have made investments to ship gas from the facility overseas. Ethane exports from Marcus Hook started in 2016.

While propane can move via rail or truck, purity ethane has to be moved from the Appalachian Basin by pipeline because of its high vapor pressure. Other pipelines move ethane in the region, including ETP’s Mariner West, Enterprise Product Partners LP’s Appalachia-to-Texas Express and Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Utopia pipeline, but there are few options compared to other parts of the country. The longer ME 1 is offline, the more likely it is to have a significant effect on the producers shipping on the line.

“From an outright production standpoint, I think the effect is probably minimal, because there are some other options to actually move these barrels, other ethane pipelines, you also have a lot of dry gas production,” said BTU Analytics senior analyst Marissa Anderson. “So, from a heat content perspective, that’s probably not an issue that would outright limit natural gas production in the region.

“However, because you have to seek out other opportunities, there could be transportation- and netback-type implications for producers in the region.”

In other words, pipeline transportation costs for propane are likely lower than rail and truck, Anderson said, while other sales arrangements on different pipelines could be more costly as well.

ME 1’s anchor shipper, Range Resources Corp., said shortly after the suspension that it was finding work-arounds to the problem, including using rail, other pipelines and additional sales arrangements. CNX Resources Corp. said the same, adding that it was rejecting ethane into the gas stream, which Range had said was an option. Range said at the time, however, that its netback price for propane would decrease by $3/bbl during the downtime because of increased transportation costs.

Anderson said the ME 1 outage also demonstrates the importance of the ME 2 and 2X projects to the basin’s NGL operations. Those two lines, combined with ME 1, would have a capacity of up to 745,000 b/d. The pipelines are expected to be complete by the end of June. Dillinger said that mainline construction is 97% complete, and the ME 1 investigation has not impacted those projects.

Ethane exports from Marcus Hook, however, appear to have stopped. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the last ship to leave the facility departed March 18 for Scotland. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data, the facility has reported no ethane exports since then. Records also show that Ineos’ ships, for example, are bound for Europe or heading only to Enterprise’s Morgan’s Point facility on the Houston Ship Channel, the only other ethane export terminal in the country.

Neither ETP nor Ineos confirmed that Marcus Hook ethane exports have stopped. But Anderson noted that “Mariner East was how you were getting ethane out, so with that line down, you can’t ship ethane over to the East Coast.”


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: