Mariner East Project, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Mariner East

The Mariner East Project is a pipeline, processing and export project being constructed in two phases, namely Mariner East 1 and Mariner East 2, by Sunoco Logistics Partners.

The project is being developed to convey natural gas liquids (NGLs) such as propane, ethane and butane from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Eastern Ohio to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex (MHIC), located in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The NGLs are processed, stored and chilled at the MHIC, and further distributed to local, domestic and international customers.

The project was announced in 2012 and the first transport of ethane from Mariner East 1 was accomplished in December 2014, whereas the first transport of propane from the pipeline was achieved in March 2016.

The construction works for Mariner East 2 are expected to start in 2016 and the project is anticipated to come online in 2017. The overall investment on the Mariner Phase 2 is estimated to be approximately $2.5bn.

Mariner East Project pipeline route and capacity

The Mariner East 1 underground pipeline originates from Markwest Energy Partner's Houston Processing and Fractionation Complex and terminates at the MHIC. The pipeline is approximately 300mi (482km) long and incorporates 8in diameter pipes for the most part, except for the 51mi (82km) stretch between Washington County and Westmoreland County, where 12in diameter pipes are used.

Mariner East 2, also known as the Pennsylvania Pipeline Project, will originate from the processing and fractionation complexes in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, and terminate at MHIC. The underground pipeline will primarily follow the Mariner East 1's right-of-way and integrate 20in diameter pipes. It will be 350mi (563km)-long, stretching 23.6mi (38km) in Chester County and 11.4mi (18.3km) in Delaware County.

The current designed capacity for Mariner East 1 is 70,000 barrels per day (bpd), whereas the initial designed capacity for Mariner East 2 is 275,000bpd, which could further be expanded to 450,000bpd by installing additional pump stations based on future market demands.

Pennsylvanian NGL transportation pipeline construction details

Following completion of the construction of Mariner Phase 2, the Mariner Phase 1 will be used to exclusively transport ethane.

Mariner East 1 is provided with 16 pump stations, three meter sites and 44 valves sites, whereas Mariner East 2 will require not more than five pump stations for the initial phase.

The main control centre for the pipeline is located in Sinking Spring near Reading, Pennsylvania. The pipelines are inspected with X-ray technology during the welding phase, provided with protective bonded-epoxy coating and cathodic protection systems, and are monitored with smart pigs.

The Mariner East 2 project will also involve the construction of additional facilities at MHIC in order to accommodate the extra capacity. Two propane tanks with a combined storage capacity of 1.5 million barrels, a 600,000-barrel butane tank and a 300,000-barrel ethane tank will be installed at the site.

The construction methods employed for the installation of the pipelines for both phases are the open-cut construction method and the drilling method incorporating either horizontal boring or horizontal directional drilling.

Ethane sales and anchor shipper agreements

In September 2012, Sunoco Logistics Partners signed two separate agreements with Ineos Europe and Range Resources Corporation. Based on the agreements, Range Resources Corporation will become the anchor shipper for the project for 15 years, whereas Ineos Europe will purchase the ethane produced from the project for 15 years.

"The NGLs are processed, stored and chilled at the MHIC, and further distributed to local, domestic and international customers."

Benefits from the Mariner East Project

Based on an economic impact study completed by Econsult Solutions in February 2015, the Mariner East project is expected to generate approximately $4.2bn to Pennsylvania's economy and create approximately 30,000 jobs during the construction period and between 300 and 400 permanent jobs when both the phases are online.

Contractors involved

Flour has been contracted to provide project management services during the construction of the new terminal facilities at the MHIC, under the Mariner East Phase II project.

The pipes for Mariner East 1 were produced at US Steel's McKeesport facility in Pennsylvania, and coated at the Durabond facility in Duquesne, Pennsylvania.

The air permit application for Mariner Phase 2 project was prepared by Tetra Tech.