Sunoco Mariner West to Start Late September or Early October

Sunoco Logistics Partners LP’s Mariner West natural gas liquids pipeline will begin by early October, at first moving less product than originally planned.

The initial capacity has been reduced to 10,000 barrels a day from 20,000 and will increase to 50,000 by the end of the first quarter of 2014, Jeff Shields, a company spokesman in Philadelphia, said by e-mail today. The project, which may start late this month, will transport ethane from the Marcellus shale formation in western Pennsylvania to the Sarnia petrochemical market in southwestern Ontario.

Sunoco Chief Executive Officer Mike Hennigan said on an Aug. 8 earnings call that the pipeline would be brought into service in September. There was no change to previously announced timetables for Sunoco’s Mariner East and Mariner South projects, Shields said.

Mariner East will take propane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale to Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, where it will be processed, stored and distributed to domestic and waterborne markets, according to the company’s website. With a capacity of about 70,000 barrels a day, Mariner East is scheduled to deliver propane by the second half of 2014 followed by both ethane and propane by mid-2015.

Mariner South, which will move propane and butane from Lone Star NGL LLC’s storage and fractionation complex in Mont Belvieu, Texas, to Sunoco’s terminal in Nederland, Texas, will be operational by the first quarter of 2015, the company said.

Gas liquids prices have declined since 2012 amid ample supplies from shale formations, prompting processors to leave ethane mixed in the gas stream rather than separate it, according to the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration. Natural gas output may rise 1 percent from a year ago to a record 69.89 billion cubic feet a day this year, the EIA said.

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