New Sunoco Pipeline Will Transport "Wet Gas" Products To Philadelphia

  • Scott Detrow

Kim Paynter / WHYY/

Workers build a new pipeline in Susquehanna County,

The Inquirer examines how Sunoco has tweaked plans for its new Pennsylvania pipeline project, to adjust to the new “wet gas”-focused natural gas market:

The Mariner East project, which calls for repurposing an existing Sunoco pipeline that crosses Pennsylvania, was originally conceived in 2010 as a way to find markets for Marcellus ethane by sending the material to Philadelphia for shipment by sea to Gulf Coast petrochemical plants. Those plants in Texas and Louisiana convert or “crack” ethane into a key ingredient used in the manufacturing of plastics.
But the project has been reimagined in recent months to include propane, which, like ethane, is found in abundance in the rich “wet gas” produced in the Marcellus wells in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Marcellus producers have already begun trucking propane to Sunoco’s Marcus Hook location for loading on ships for export to Europe, according to MarkWest Energy Partners L.P., which is working with Sunoco on the Mariner project. Propane fetches a premium price in Europe as a heating fuel and a raw material for chemical producers. A cross-state pipeline would be able to carry far more fuel to Southeastern Pennsylvania than trucks, requiring construction of a fuel terminal and also potentially a processing plant to separate ethane and propane from natural gas liquids.

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