2015 Archives

Back to main page

Questions or comments about this web page? Email us!

Allies, supporters & friends Audio-Video archive Interactive map Links & resources


Pipeline planning fuels deals, disputes

Planning for a new pipeline across Pennsylvania has evolved into a statewide string of deals and disputes that runs right past the treehouse in Ron Rock's Cumru Township front yard and the dog parks in Brecknock Township that help generate a living for Pat Emmett.

Rock has made a deal. Emmett has been taken to court.

In both cases, the other party is Sunoco Pipeline L.P., which hopes to build one or perhaps two new underground pipelines across much of the state, largely following the same path as other pipelines installed decades ago. As the company tries to get access to more land from property owners, there have been court clashes all the way from Washington County on the Ohio border to the Philadelphia region.

Pat Emmett (Image-Reading Eagle)

Sunoco Pipeline has filed eminent domain proceedings in Berks County Court against Emmett and the owners of 14 other properties. The company is owned by Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and logged more than $5.7 billion in revenue in the first six months of the year.

Emmett, owner of Godfrey's Welcome to Dogdom in Brecknock, said the project will disrupt his business.

"This thing will go right through our parking lot," he said. "People aren't going to come and let the dogs run while all the equipment is in there."

In a Washington County case, a judge on Dec. 17 issued a ruling that found Sunoco was a public utility with the power of eminent domain. Emmett said his own attorney, Michael Faherty, still believes Sunoco does not have the legal right to take property.

Attempts to reach Faherty were unsuccessful.

But Chester County attorney Tony Verwey, who represents eight property owners taken to court by Sunoco, said he has advised them to seek the best deal possible but not fight the company's use of eminent domain.

"My view is they could spend a great deal of money with little likelihood of success," he said.

Many property owners have decided that a stressful and resource-draining fight with a multibillion-dollar company is not worth it.

Proposed pipeline

Sunoco Pipeline has started eminent domain proceedings against 15 owners of properties in Berks County along the route for the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline project. It would parallel an existing pipeline.

Map (Image: Reading Eagle)

Reaching a deal

For Rock, the bargaining started about a year ago.

The scenic front yard of his rural property, with its rail fence and treehouse, slopes down from his home toward a winding road. The pipeline company already had access to a strip of Rock's land above two pipelines that had been in the ground for years.

A stranger visited Rock's home on behalf of Sunoco and offered what Rock considered to be a small amount of money in exchange for access to a wider strip of land, he said.

"It didn't seem quite right to me," Rock said.

He consulted with an attorney. Another person came to his house, offering slightly more money. The language in the associated paper work left Rock uncertain exactly what the company wanted to do on his property.

Ultimately, a third person visited Rock., who learned that an above-ground shutoff valve - a big steering wheel-type thing - would be installed in his front yard, surrounded by an 8-foot chain-link fence, in addition to the new pipeline.

The man representing the pipeline company, Rock said, asked if Rock had a number in mind.

"I said, 'You know, what we are talking about is my front yard and my trees and my seclusion,'" Rock recalled.

The pipeline company approved his offer. Rock and his wife have started using the money on renovations to their house they believe will offset the loss in property value created by the valve in their front yard.

Rock declined to disclose the amount of his settlement.

He laughed when asked about the original offer. It was, he said, "A lot less."

Getting paid

Sunoco's Mariner East 2 project is a result of the decade-long boom in extracting natural gas and other fuels from layers of shale beneath Pennsylvania and nearby states.

While pipeline projects have been popping up across the state, the Sunoco project is one of only two major ones that have affected Berks recently, according to Berks County Planning Commission staffer Cheryl Auchenbach. The other was Texas Eastern Transmission's installation of 5.6 miles of pipeline in Ruscombmanor, Bern, Ontelaunee, Muhlenberg and Alsace townships.

Sunoco spokesman Jeffrey Shields said the new pipeline or pipelines are expected to convey butane, propane, ethane and other materials in liquid form, but not natural gas.

The company, he said, prefers to avoid eminent domain proceedings.

"We don't think it is the best way to resolve things," he said. "We try to negotiate with landowners in good faith."

Many times, negotiations succeed and money flows.

Brecknock homeowner Christine Hertneky said she signed a deal.

"Most of the landowners near me have come to an acceptable agreement," she said. "At the end of the day, the project is going to proceed. There is nothing you can really do to stop the project."

Retired general contractor Russell Miller Jr., who has lived on his Cumru property for more than 40 years, said Sunoco took care of all the concerns he had before he signed an agreement.

And Rock said payment came quickly, for him.

"As soon as I signed the papers, they handed me a check," said Rock, who lives with his wife and son in Cumru Township. "That day."

Still fighting

Craig Barrett said he plans to fight Sunoco in as many courts as necessary.

The potential path of the pipeline across his Brecknock property could disturb existing pipes that feed water to his pond and 18th century springhouse, he said.

He and his family, he said, have not been treated fairly by Sunoco.

"Their lowball offer is just ridiculous," he said. "It is just crazy."

Emmett - who along with his wife, Barb, donated the 25-foot Christmas tree that stands in downtown Reading this holiday season - said Sunoco's plans will require taking down a large spruce tree, tearing up his driveway and running through the dog parks that people rent by the hour.

Representatives of the company have not told him or his attorney how long they will need access to the property. Hence, Emmett said, he has no idea how much customer income he will lose.

Emmett questions the judicial findings that Sunoco is a public utility.

He said, "They are putting it in to make money."

Contact Ford Turner: 610-371-5037 or fturner@readingeagle.com.

source

Mariner East Wins Another Eminent Domain Court Battle

Another Pennsylvania court has handed Sunoco Logistics Partners LP a victory as it pushes forward with development of the Mariner East pipeline project to transport natural gas liquids (NGL).

The Washington County Court of Common Pleas ruled this month that the Mariner East 2 pipeline meets the criteria of a public utility with eminent domain rights. The ruling would allow the company to condemn property it needs for easements to connect the pipeline with a gas processing facility in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Washington County complaint was filed by a group of landowners that had argued the project is an interstate pipeline that falls under federal jurisdiction and not state laws governing eminent domain. In October, the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas ruled against six landowners that had made a similar argument (see Shale Daily, Oct. 6). The Cumberland County court's ruling was the first to recognize the pipeline as an intrastate system with public utility status and eminent domain power.

A previous ruling in York County found that the pipeline was an interstate system with no eminent domain power, but other cases against the project are still pending in Washington and Westmoreland counties.

...

source

A new job pipeline for steelworkers

December 27, 2015 12:00 AM

By Leo W. Gerard and Bobby McAuliffe

Made in America by union workers” has long been the rallying cry of the United Steelworkers and thousands of other union tradesmen and women. Many responsible companies have adopted this philosophy in helping to create family-sustaining jobs. It is with great pride that we thank Sunoco Logistics for making a commitment to use American steel and to support the men and women who make it with the construction of the company’s Mariner East 1 and 2 pipeline projects.

As the steel industry continues to navigate its way through consolidation and compete against cheap foreign steel imports, the industry has seen new hope with the shale-gas boom, particularly in Pennsylvania. Key to fueling a resurgence in American manufacturing is low-cost, abundant energy, and the natural-gas and oil boom is providing it. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania still lacks the pipeline infrastructure to move the products to where they’re needed.

Sunoco Logistics is one of many energy companies undertaking an unprecedented build-out of pipelines. These build-outs require steel — lots of it. While other companies focus on traditional natural-gas (methane) pipelines, Sunoco is investing $3 billion in Pennsylvania to transport natural-gas liquids such as propane, ethane and butane, which also come out of the ground in the natural-gas extraction process.

Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 and Mariner East 2 pipeline projects — built to move natural gas liquids from Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in southeast Pennsylvania — include at least 400 miles of new steel pipe.

Sunoco Logistics has been doing it the right way from the very start in Pennsylvania, its home state.

For Mariner East 1, the company used manufacturers based in Pennsylvania. For instance, the U.S. Steel McKeesport facility will produce the pipe and nearby Dura-Bond in Duquesne will add protective coating. This project is a prime example of one Pennsylvania company sharing supply-chain opportunities with other Pennsylvania businesses.

Sunoco also engaged with our union brothers and sisters in the Laborers International Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and International Union of Operating Engineers for Mariner East 1. By relying on local trades, the company ensured that the best-trained professionals were deployed to build the pipeline to meet or exceed federal safety requirements. Safety is of utmost importance to pipeline companies and to the people building them — after all, we live where we work.

The good news for the steel industry continues with Mariner East 2: All of its 350 miles of new pipe will be bought and rolled from American steel plants across the country, a majority of which are USW-represented. That’s more than 75,000 tons of steel for this project alone.

Overall, the Mariner East pipeline projects will support 30,000 jobs along their routes during construction. Once both lines are operational, they will generate $100 million to $150 million in annual economic impact and support 300 to 400 full-time jobs.

In addition to wages that support families, the projects provide critical apprenticeship-training opportunities. And the payroll taxes on those workers will generate tax revenue for communities along the route.

Additionally, easy access to an abundant supply of affordable energy will encourage more companies to do business in our region, spurring even more jobs and new economic activity for existing businesses.

Thanks to the investment of companies like Sunoco Logistics in our nation’s energy infrastructure and in American-made and union-affiliated steel and related labor, we can turn the state’s and nation’s manufacturing rebirth into a long-term, sustainable way of life.

Leo W. Gerard is international president of the United Steelworkers and Bobby McAuliffe is director of USW District 10, which encompasses all locals in Pennsylvania.


source

The oil price, Iran and Saudi's economy

During last month's OPEC meeting, Saudi Arabia again declined to cut oil production despite the world being awash with oil. The great unanswered question for Saudi Arabia is: How low can prices go, and for how long?

Saudi Arabia's refusal to reduce oil output shows no sign of abating, but its determination to drive out US shale producers is taking a toll on the kingdom's economy, recent data suggests. And with the expectation of Iran's return to global oil markets already undermining fragile prices, Riyadh's strategy looks increasingly like it might be a gamble with declining odds.

Although the kingdom has substantial reserves, it appears to be burning through its financial war chest at an alarming rate. According to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, foreign exchange reserves fell to $648bn at the end of October from $742bn a year earlier.

Oil prices and OPEC

If OPEC does not compensate for the increase in Iran's oil exports by cutting oil production, the International Monetary Fund says oil prices could fall between five and 10 percent in the medium term. Energy giant BP estimates that Iran has the fourth-largest proven oil reserves in the world after Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Canada, as well as the second-largest gas reserves, according to the IMF.

How quickly Iran can ramp up production is up for debate, but a consensus appears to be emerging. Jaap Kalkman, managing partner of Arthur D Little's global energy and utilities practice, believes that Iran will add between 0.5 to one million barrels a day within a year, while the IMF forecasts an increase of around 0.6 million barrels a day in 2016.

Bijan Zangeneh, Iran's oil minister, is considerably more bullish about the country's ability to bolster output but, whatever the figure, it is expected to increase pressure on Saudi's economy, in which about 90 percent of government revenues are derived from hydrocarbons.

Khalid al-Dakhil, an assistant professor of political sociology at King Saud University, told Al Jazeera that he did not expect Iran's output to have a dramatic effect.

"Politically, I do not see any impact of Iran's return to the oil market on Saudi Arabia," he said. "This return could [cause] oil prices to go further down - but remember, Iran is much more than Saudi Arabia in dire need to improve prices, because it is coming out of political and economic isolation."

At the same time, there are signs that the Saudi campaign against US shale is having an impact. There is mounting evidence that shale production in the United States is beginning to wane, while energy consumption in advanced economies is rising. Elsewhere in the world, major energy companies have shelved a number of projects - a move that will support of prices in the medium term.

Saudi economy

Even so, the IMF predicts that the gross domestic product in Saudi Arabia will grow by only 2.2 percent in 2016, compared with 4.4 percent in Iran.

Eduard Gracia, a principal at the AT Kearney consulting firm, says Saudi Arabia's decision not to cut production is due in part to the supply-demand dynamics of the global market.

"It only makes sense to cut production if the supply situation is such that a small output reduction results in a substantial price increase," Gracia told Al Jazeera. "In a situation of global oversupply this may not be the case, so the appeal of a production-cutting strategy is not clear."

By the end of this year, Saudi Arabia's budget deficit will reach 20 percent of GDP, according to a December report from Capital Economics. The situation has prompted the IMF to warn that Saudi could exhaust its reserves within five years if policies remain unchanged. Riyadh has responded with cutbacks in spending, and is under intense pressure to reduce expensive energy subsidies.

The IMF estimates that these implicit subsidies cost the government $83bn in 2014, one of the highest totals in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, second only to Bahrain. Attention is now turning to Saudi's 2016 budget. It is expected to be one of mostly heavily scrutinised budgets in years, as investors seek reassurance that the kingdom's finances are under control.

According to press reports, leaked memos from King Salman to the Ministry of Finance in October ordered government entities to stop new infrastructure projects and to postpone purchases of new cars and furniture. Mounting economic uncertainty led Standard & Poor's to downgrade Saudi's rating from AA-/A-1+ to A /A-1 in October, with a warning of a possible further downgrades.

The downgrade pushes up the costs of borrowing at a time when government revenues have fallen sharply. There has also been speculation in financial markets about how this could affect the Saudi riyal, with the spread between forward and spot rates recently widening to the highest level since 2003.

However, according to Capital Economics, that scenario would be the last resort, and Saudi has other options that could include tapping into the international bond markets early in 2016 - something it has never done before. Authorities are currently issuing around SAR 20bn ($5bn) of debt per month to local banks, reducing the amount local banks have left to lend to the private sector, according to an estimate from Capital Economics.

source


Financial Woes in the Petroleum Industry

Bankruptcies in the oil and gas sector in the US have reached levels last seen in the Great Recession.

The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank put out a report on December 23 noting that at least nine US oil and gas companies with $2 billion in debt have defaulted in the fourth quarter.

"If bankruptcies continue at this rate, more may follow in 2016," the report said.

Upstream capital spending has plummeted, according to the note, down 51% from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015.

US oil and gas employment has fallen 14.5% year-over-year from the peak in October 2014, according to the report, equivalent to 70,000 job losses.

"Job losses and falling energy prices portend continued distress for the oil and gas sector in 2016," the report said.

OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, predicts oil won't price above $100 a barrel for more than 20 years.

"Expectations have shifted toward a weaker price outlook because sanctions against Iran are likely to be lifted in early 2016, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has scrapped any pretense of a production ceiling, and US production declines have slowed," the Dallas Fed said in its report.

"If bankruptcies continue at this rate, more may follow in 2016," the report said.
...
"Job losses and falling energy prices portend continued distress for the oil and gas sector in 2016,"

source

Related: Oil won't be worth $100 a barrel until after 2040


Did Sunoco quietly tunnel underneath West Goshen?

— If you've been in touch with Sunoco and live near 352 & Boot Road, please contact us (link)

R

ecently we became aware of a recent newsletter circulating in East Goshen concerning Sunoco's easements. What's interesting is the location - apparently Boot Road & Rt 325. We're still looking for information, so please enlighten us. If you've been contacted by Sunoco, please get in touch with us. We're especially interested in parties that own property on (or near) Boot Road between approximately Phoenixville Pike and as far south as Paoli Pike.

The passage of interest:

"Sunoco’s Land Agents continue to contact residents along Boot Road and North Chester Road to secure easements for the proposed Mariner 2 pipeline. About 30% of the properties have signed easements. Sunoco’s goal is to have all easements signed by the end of the year so that construction may start in East Goshen in the spring. The project is expected to take about 2 to 3 months to complete. Sunoco’s goal is to obtain a 50 foot right-of-way along the entire pipeline. In some cases, they want an additional 25 feet for a temporary easement for construction

The first phase of Mariner 2 will be to install a 16’ pipe utilizing horizontal drilling along Boot Road and North Chester Road. No road closures are anticipated during construction. Sunoco is also considering a second phase for the Mariner 2 project. An additional 20” pipe may also be installed at the same time as the 16” pipe is being installed. That decision should be made by the end of the year."

Did you catch this part? This is underground tunnelling, underneath or properties.

"...The first phase of Mariner 2 will be to install a 16’ pipe utilizing horizontal drilling along Boot Road and North Chester Road. No road closures are anticipated during construction. "

We hope this is a typo:

"...The first phase of Mariner 2 will be to install a 16’ pipe... "

16 feet diameter?

View the document here (jpeg imagepdf), read the full newsletter on East Goshen's website or view our local copy.


(Unrelated) Looks like some local townships have been swapping newsletter templates. Someone forgot to clean up up the header information after East Goshen borrowed it from West Rockhill Township.

Oops.

Recent screenshot

source


Editorial: Sunoco Premature in Claiming it Has Public Utility Status

Reading Eagle - NEWS Reading Eagle

The Issue: A private company is using eminent domain to seize land for a pipeline.

Our Opinion: That legal maneuver should be reserved for government agencies acting for the good of the public.

Some property owners in western and southern Berks County are gearing up for a fight with Sunoco Pipeline, which has begun using eminent domain proceedings to secure easements for a new conduit the company is planning to build from Ohio to its Marcus Hook facility in Delaware County.

But there is a question as to whether the company actually has the right to use eminent domain, a legal maneuver the use of which usually is restricted to public agencies, such as a municipality or state. It allows the taking of private property for public use.

In Berks County, perhaps the biggest example of the use of eminent domain occurred 39 years ago when dozens of homes in the Hyde Park section of Muhlenberg Township were taken to facilitate the extension of the Warren Street Bypass from the Fifth Street Highway to Pricetown Road.

But Sunoco Pipeline is not a municipality, and the proposed pipeline would benefit the company's bottom line far more than it would the public good. Indeed such arguments were made before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission after Sunoco petitioned the PUC for a special determination.

Robert J. Burnett, Director at the Pittsburgh-based law firm of Houston Harbaugh
According to Robert J. Burnett, director and chairman of the Pittsburgh-based law firm of Houston Harbaugh, and Nathan A. Kostelnik, a firm associate, the PUC, in a 4-1 decision, rejected the findings of two administrative law judges and remanded the matter for further proceedings.

"In doing so," Burnett and Kostelnik wrote in a posting on the firm's website, "the PUC overruled the jurisdictional challenge, concluding that Sunoco's petition set forth a sufficient basis for the PUC to exercise jurisdiction over Sunoco as a public utility."

Although Burnett and Kostelnik called the ruling a temporary victory for Sunoco and said the matter is far from over, the company has been using the PUC vote as the basis for its eminent domain proceedings on numerous properties in Berks County and beyond.

One of the attorneys representing some of the property owners, however, noted that since this is a pipeline that crosses state lines, the Natural Gas Act gives authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, not the PUC.

This conflict undoubtedly is headed for the courts, where it could be tied up for years. Until the matter is settled, however, Sunoco is proceeding as if it is a done deal.

It is not difficult to understand why. Development in the Marcellus shale formation and elsewhere has grown much faster than the infrastructure needed to handle the natural gas that is being produced. Sunoco wants to move as quickly as possible to take advantage of the boom.

But there should be a limit, especially when a big corporation is up against individuals who own property in the path of the proposed pipeline.

Designating Sunoco Pipeline as a public utility could open Pennsylvania for perhaps dozens of other pipelines, which could be forced upon property owners under the threat of an eminent domain proceeding.

The use of eminent domain should be restricted to the federal, state, county and local governments and school districts for projects that truly benefit the public, not the bottom line of a big corporation.

source


Judge Rules Sunoco Has Eminent Domain Power in Pipeline Project

Sunoco Pipeline will be allowed to use eminent domain to take property in Cumberland County for its Mariner East 2 pipeline project, a state court has ruled.

Judge Edward Guido (L)
Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas Judge Edward Guido ruled late last month that the pipeline company will be able to condemn a permanent easement on 1.5 acres of land and temporary easements on 0.84 acres of property owned by R. Scott and Pamela S. Martin in North Middleton Township.

The decision in In re Condemnation by Sunoco Pipeline LP overruled preliminary objections from the Martins.

In a footnote in Guido's two-page order, the judge said the pipeline will provide both loading and off-loading of ethane, propane, liquid petroleum gas and other petroleum products. The footnote also clarified several disputes between the parties, primarily noting the Mariner East 2 project provides intrastate service, and Sunoco is subject to Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission regulations.

"Sunoco Pipeline LP is a 'public utility corporation' as defined at 15 Pa. CSA Section 1103," Guido said. "Pennsylvania public utility corporations possess the power of eminent domain."

Jeff Shields, a spokesman for Sunoco, said that, although the decision was consistent with case law, the company did not view the need to resort to eminent domain as a positive.

Sunoco's Jeff Shields
"We are confident that our negotiations with landowners will continue to produce agreements that are acceptable to all parties and avoid the condemnation process whenever possible," Shields said in an emailed statement. "Sunoco Pipeline regards eminent domain as a last resort, for use cautiously only when negotiations with a landowner fail and can impede the successful completion of the project."

Along with disputing whether the project should be considered interstate or intrastate, and therefore primarily regulated by either the PUC or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the parties also disputed several recent cases involving condemnation for pipelines, and the adequacy of the $12,000 bond Sunoco put up for the property.

According to the declaration of taking filed in July, Sunoco contended it operated a public utility that provides and transports petroleum products. The company argued it had been regulated since 2002 by the PUC.

In 2012, Sunoco announced the Mariner East project, which is aimed at relieving the "oversupply of natural gas liquids in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins and to alleviate supply-side shortages of propane in Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States," said the declaration of taking, filed by Dana W. Chilson of McNees Wallace & Nurick.

Although the first phase of the project initially prioritized interstate pipeline transportation, Sunoco's business plan for the Mariner East project as a whole focused on intrastate transportation of propane for delivery to customers in Pennsylvania, the declaration said. The declaration also noted the increased shipping demands for propane during the 2013-14 winter, and the resultant price spikes.

"Sunoco Pipeline LP is a 'public utility corporation' as defined at 15 Pa. CSA Section 1103," Guido said. "Pennsylvania public utility corporations possess the power of eminent domain."

"In reaction to the unfolding market conditions and shipper interest, Sunoco Pipeline accelerated its business plans to provide intrastate shipments of propane within the commonwealth, in addition to interstate shipments of propane and ethane," the declaration said.

In their preliminary objections, the Martins contended Sunoco does not have the power or the right to take the land. The filing argued the legislature chose not to provide eminent domain power for natural gas liquids, and said courts have repeatedly rejected Sunoco's attempts to exercise eminent domain powers.

"The assertion of state eminent domain power is entirely inapplicable to this interstate pipeline," said the preliminary objections, filed by Hershey attorney Michael F. Faherty. "Sunoco has repeatedly tried and failed to obtain the requested eminent domain power."

The Martins cited the 2014 decision in Loper v. Sunoco, and said York County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh "flatly and forcefully rejected this exact attempt." The Martins also said Washington County Court of Common Pleas Judge Katherine B. Emery "scoffed at the ploy" in the consolidated cases in Cox v. Sunoco.

"Sunoco has now sunken to the effort of false representation of mischaracterizing Mariner East 2 from an interstate to an intrastate pipeline. Sunoco seeks eminent domain power to defeat constitutional law and simply reduce property costs. This honorable court should not be fooled," the filing said.

The preliminary objections also contended the Mariner East 2 project crosses state lines, and is only regulated by FERC.

In its response filed in September by Kandice Kerwin Hull, also of McNees Wallace, Sunoco contended the Martins mischaracterized the arguments and the case.

The project, Sunoco argued, is not an interstate project and it is not regulated by FERC. Sunoco further contended the pipeline will transport products that are substantially different from natural gas.

Sunoco additionally argued it has never been denied eminent domain authority, and the references to the Loper case were misleading, as the case dealt with interstate shipments.

Emery also never rendered a decision in the Cox cases, Sunoco argued, because the parties negotiated an agreement of easement.

"To include these cases among the alleged 'repeated failures' of Sunoco Pipeline to obtain eminent domain power when no decision was even rendered by the court stretches the limits of zealous advocacy and comes perilously close to outright misrepresentation," the filing said.

Faherty did not return a call for comment.

source (login account my be required)


Low Oil Prices — Karma or Our New Friend?

 

If you haven't been following oil prices, they're at an all-time low. It's very possible the oil companies simply ran out of funding for any new work. On Nov 15, oil hit $40 per barrel. Click on any chart below for details. Time spans: October 2014-present (left), 2015 to date (center), November 2015 (right).

Oil, PPB 2014 - 2015

Oil, PPB 2015 to date

Oil, PPB November 2015


And by the looks of things, not a moment too soon. Apparently Sunoco's been playing the eminent domain card (details). Excerpt:

"Landowners contacted by StateImpact Pennsylvania accuse Sunoco of making low-ball compensation offers; .... Some who have rejected cash compensation have been served with documents that initiate an eminent domain action in court."

source

Misplaced Symbolism


ISIL fighters carrying flag (source-US News)

Flag of the former U.S.S.R.
For those advanced in life enough to remember the Cold War, it was full of symbols that represented ideology. And many ideologies represented a tangible threat, Communism and terrorism in particular. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) shortly after. The U.S.S.R. flag is now a relic of an empire that collapsed under the weight of its own armor. The pins, coins, badges and other communist swag frequently appear on ebay.

The German National Socialist ("Nazi") flag and now the flag of the Northern Virginia Army ("Confederate" Flag) are regarded as symbols of oppression, but the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seems to have slipped under the radar.

While there certainly isn't any shortage of islamic psycho inspiration, ISIL has taken crazy to depths seen only in old-school Hollywood. Here's the set-up, according to the islamic state caliphate: in the end times, the final battle between good (islam) and evil (infidels, that would be us) takes place in modern day Syria. As the battle intensifies, more countries become involved. As it turns into an Armageddon-like scenario, Mahdi, or “the rightly guided one” appears and leads the final battles. In some versions, Jesus also reappears and provides assistance to Mahdi. Since the end-of-times is their primary recruitment tool, it shouldn't come as a shock that it's also their final plan. It also sounds like one of the lesser-credible movie plots from Hollywood, except it isn't fiction. ISIL has waded into the Syrian civil war, and has also pulled in the U.S., Russia, France and Iran. If ISIL truly wishes to trigger the final war of humanity, they're making breathtaking progress.

Flag of ISIL.

Russia sometimes exhibits behavior similar to the classic playground bully: aggressive, frequently violent, boorish but unable to withstand the slightest humiliation or slight. In short, they can dish it out, but can't take it. A good Star Trek analogy would be combining the worst parts of the Klingons & Romulans, add a few tons of paranoia, then subtract the goodwill, cheer and culture.

Yesterday, Turkey shot down a Russian military jet violating Turkey's airspace, despite Turkey's warnings. Russia's reaction was predictable: outrage followed by threats. Should Russia choose to punish Turkey, it will have far-reaching implications, as Turkey is a NATO member. Turkey had previously warned Russia about airspace violations by Russia's aircraft, which apparently Russia ignored. It now looks like Russia sent air-defense missiles to Syria. Downing a Turkish aircraft could easily lead to escalation.

We're still protected by 3000 miles of ocean, however September 11 taught us that small, covert coordinated attacks can still be executed (example). ISIL took the next step — they recruit people already in place. The recent attacks in Paris are a prime example. ISIL's social media campaign can't be ignored; the recent influx of recruits (many are young girls, apparently unaware of Sharia law) attest to ISIL recruiters ability to assimilate into young groups, resonate, evangelize and then, radicalize.

Apparent image of Russian SU-24 in flames.
(internet image)

3000 miles of ocean are no longer enough to defend our eastern border. Gone are the days when we're threatened by large standing armies. Today's style of fighting takes place on the information superhighway, and occasionally high-profile attacks with Paris being the most recent example.

Gone are the World War II style large armies slugging it out on sprawling battlefields, particularly on this side of the globe. If there were a large scale attack, they probably won't have our ethical standards, women & minorities in particular. If large enough, think of the amendments to the Constitution. Gone, along with the Constitution itself. Most folks we contact can't recite more than two or three of them (the first 10 were ratified with the constitution in 1791, the remaining 17 were enacted in the following years for a total of 27 amendments as of November 2015).

Terrorists attack soft targets of opportunity, enhanced casualties and shock are their goals. Poorly guarded high pressure pipes carrying a explosive product must be an attractive option.

Current threat analysis: Most modern terror attacks are small, fast, fluid and without warning. The perpetrators are always disguised as civilians. The first responders are those already in place, usually taken by surprise. However, there are cases where the intended victims succeeded in fighting back, or at least thwarting the attack. That outlines two important details: First, there aren't any non-combatants, everyone is fair game. Second, you are your own first line of defense.

At this time, there aren't any credible terrorist attacks thought to be in the works (details). Your best best is to stay vigilant. Avoid excess by distraction listening to your iPod/iPad/mp3 player, iPhone, etc. Stay confident & maintain situational awareness. If you need a confidence booster, consider any of the following: learn martial arts, learn a new language, study some of the tactics of the terrorist hunters, take up archery, hiking, camping or other activity that involves exercise and enhances your ability to stay outdoors for a longerperiod of time. Also for your consideration: volunteer for your local EMS/fire department. Learn a skill useful in the 21st century, such as computer forensics.

As the mantra goes: if you see something, say something.

(Editor note-This is a repeat from last year's Thanksgiving message, by request)

Thanksgiving

We live in the most advanced, affluent society on the planet. We can certainly justify taking time to be thankful and enjoy the fruits of our labors. It's easy to become socially isolated, even in plain view of our neighbors.

Rockwell's Freedom From Want, 1943
Thanksgiving is a unique holiday from the perspective that it doesn't focus on any particular person or single event. It was originally an act of reflection and gratitude for the harvest in paleo-America.

The Rockwellian picture of the family feast is a recent development, around 1827 a certain Sarah Josepha Hale penned:

 

"”The table, covered with a damask cloth, vieing in whiteness, and nearly equaling in texture, the finest imported, though spun, woven and bleached by Mrs. Romilly's own hand, was now intended for the whole household, every child having a seat on this occasion; and the more the better, it being considered an honor for a man to sit down to his Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by a large family. The provision is always sufficient for a multitude, every farmer in the country being, at this season of the year, plentifully supplied, and every one proud of displaying his abundance and prosperity. The roasted turkey took precedence on this occasion, being placed at the head of the table; and well did it become its lordly station, sending forth the rich odor of its savory stuffing, and finely covered with the froth of the basting. ..."

As the holiday season approaches, try to take extra time to enjoy the season, the scenery and the smaller details. It's possible that for some of us, our thanksgivings in West Goshen are numbered.

For your consideration:

  • Take time to introduce yourself to the neighbor across the way, the one you've always seen but never introduced.
  • Consider stopping in to check on elders. Maybe rake their leaves.
  • Thank a veteran.
  • Donate to a homeless shelter, or your unused items to Goodwill (or a similar institution).
  • Find a new friend at the SPCA, animal shelter or pound. Their lives (literally) depend on our generosity.
  • Help someone jobless, or in serious financial trouble.
  • It would also make a good opportunity to bury the hatchet.


Congratulations to Chris Pielli, our newest Supervisor.

Election results are below, current as of 6 AM .

TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP
VOTE FOR NOT MORE THAN 2

Candidate Votes Percent
CHRIS PIELLI (DEM) 2,086 26.54
BARBARA KIPP STONE (DEM) 1,765 22.45
HUGH J PURNELL JR (REP) 2,000 25.44
JEFFREY A LAUDENSLAGER (REP) 1,999 25.43
WRITE-IN 11 .14

 

source


A Reader Responds

Jen from Uwchlan Township writes:

We are also fighting Sunoco Logistics – I live in a neighborhood that already has ME1 running through it, along with several other pipelines. We have 80 homes in here where SL is trying to get us to sign easement agreements. They want to run ME2 and 3 alongside ME1. Our lots are about .5 acre on average. The lines will run within 10 feet of some homes, about 50’ from mine.

Anyway, there is a public forum meeting on 9/29 at Downingtown East High School, and we are trying to fill the auditorium – it holds 750. Would you guys be interested in attending and spreading the word about the meeting? We need a large showing of people, and I thought you/your followers might be interested.

Here is the link to register, it’s free:
http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ebi6i8qzcd85ee73&llr=o9ud4anab

Registration link


Overheard: Pipeline Details

We had a rare opportunity to learn firsthand what Sunoco’s pondering. Recently, two management types from Sonoco were discussing plans. Here’s the summary of what was said:

  • Size: they’re still deciding on the size of the pipe. The two schools of thought seem to be 12 inches, 24 inches or perhaps multiple pipes.
  • Location: Right down the middle of East Boot Road between approximately Greenhill Road and Windsor. This is apparently a definite.
  • Their take on the situation: “Glad it isn’t near my home.”


Surveying in progress - click to enlarge

Road Construction at Boot Rd. & Windsor Dr.


East Boot Road and Windsor.


East Boot Road and Windsor.

PECO appears to be almost finished. Here are two new images.

Sunoco's Open House - Field Report

T

urnout appeared to be light. For those that attended the open house hosted by Sunoco on the 29th, you probably noticed a significant change in their tone. It’s clear they’re making more of an effort to win the hearts & minds of the residents. They had several stations with various presentations: a slide show & narration, similar to the presentation at East1, another station with maps specific to each neighborhood2, food & drink and even gave out bags with Sunoco swag3.

The majority of the presentation concerned horizontal drilling (ostensibly having minimal environmental impact), and other visual representations of infrastructure (pumping stations, valves, etc). Several police officers were present.

If Sunoco doesn't intend to take property (versus seeking easement), they could have done a better job pointing that detail out.

It appears Sunoco held a similar presentation in Media on July 1st.

1 - East High School, April 22 2014 — click here for images
2 - One Sunoco representative openly remarked that the Boot Road area south of 202 is a “hotbed”.
3 - A tape measure (made in China), a small foam construction helmet (purpose unknown) and a refrigerator magnet. Don't be jealous.

Sunoco Logistics plans additional pipeline to deliver Marcellus liquids to Marcus Hook

By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: June 06, 2015

Sunoco Logistics Partners disclosed Thursday that it plans to build an additional pipeline to deliver Marcellus Shale products to Marcus Hook, reflecting a growing market for liquid fuels derived from the region's shale drilling.

The Philadelphia company said it now intends to build two pipelines simultaneously as part of its Mariner East 2 project. The project, announced in November, is the second phase of a plan to move materials including propane, butane, and ethane from Appalachian shale-gas fields to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex southwest of Philadelphia.

The new twin pipelines would largely follow the route of Sunoco's first Mariner East project, an 84-year-old repurposed fuel pipeline crossing Pennsylvania that went into service in December.

Sunoco Logistics recently began securing easements on the 350-mile Mariner East 2 route that provide for construction of two pipelines.

Jeffrey Shields, a Sunoco Logistics spokesman, said building both pipelines at the same time would reduce disruptions to property owners and "also makes business sense" because it would cut construction costs.

Sunoco last year secured commitments from shippers for the first new pipeline, but the capacity on a second new pipeline is tentative. The company needs to hold an "open season" to sign up shippers before putting the pipe into the ground.

"We can't say it's a done deal," Shields said.

Sunoco Logistics' growing ambitions for the Mariner East project reflects a bullish outlook on the Marcellus and the Utica Shale formations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Both formations produce liquids such as ethane, propane and butane, which are used as building blocks by the petrochemical industry.

Several competitors to Sunoco Logistics are scrambling to expand capacity to transport natural gas liquids (NGLs) to Gulf Coast outlets in Louisiana and Texas.

Sunoco's efforts to expand the Mariner East pipeline has received support from the industry and some political leaders, who point to the massive industrial redevelopment in Marcus Hook as solid local downstream development from the Marcellus Shale boom.

But much opposition from environmental groups and landowners has formed to the plethora of new pipelines.

About 100 property owners in Uwchlan Township, Chester County, met Wednesday night to organize a strategy after getting letters or visits from Sunoco Logistics about the Mariner East 2.

"Landowners I have been in touch with are not interested in having their neighborhood turned into an industrial highway for Sunoco's profit," said Jeff Kern, a landowner who organized the meeting. Landowners are concerned about the safety of the pipelines, and their effect on property values.

Pipeline opponents point to the explosion in January of a one-year-old NGL pipeline in West Virginia that burned about 5 acres of woodlands and scorched a house about 2,000 feet away. Federal investigators said the ATEX Pipeline failed near a weld.

Rich Raiders, a pipeline lawyer who negotiates easements for landowners, said it was difficult to stop a pipeline that has been approved by regulators. He suggested it may be better to try to negotiate a more attractive agreement.

"I often get the question, 'Can I just chase these people off my property?' " said Raiders, whose practice is based in Gordon, Pa. "That's extremely unlikely."

Many of the NGLs being delivered to Marcus Hook would be loaded onto vessels and shipped to European buyers.

But Sunoco Logistics says it is also building new local markets. It is developing plans to construct a propane dehydrogenation plant in Marcus Hook that would convert propane into propylene. A buyer for that material might be Braskem SA, the Brazilian petrochemical maker with U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia and operations in Marcus Hook.

Shields said Sunoco had not estimated the cost of building a second Mariner 2 pipeline. Construction of the first pipeline was initially projected to cost $2.5 billion.

The two new pipelines would dramatically increase the volumes of NGLs being delivered to Marcus Hook.

The Mariner East pipeline will deliver 70,000 barrels of NGLs a day when it is fully operating later this year.

By comparison, the new 20-inch Mariner East 2 project proposed last year would deliver 275,000 barrels when it comes online at the end of 2016.

Shields said the second new pipeline, 16 inches in diameter, would deliver 225,000 barrels per day.

amaykuth@phillynews.com

215-854-2947 @maykuth

source

Oil Prices

Oil prices bottomed out in January at $45 per barrel, the current price is $53.09 per barrel.

Oil, PPB June 2015

Oil, PPB Oct 2014-June 2015

source


PECO to Close Boot Road Between Windsor Drive and Wilson Drive


East Boot Road between Wilson, Windsor & Greenhill.

Road closure notice:

"PECO Energy will close one lane on Boot Road between Windsor Drive and Wilson Drive in East Goshen Township, beginning Monday, June 29, for the installation of a gas main. East Boot Road will be reduced to one lane weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Monday, July 6."

Please see source document for full text.

source


Sunoco to Host Public Open House for Mariner 2

Where: Sykes Union Building, 110 W Rosedale Avenue, West Chester University

When: Monday, June 29, 2015 5:30pm - 8:30 pm

RSVP for attendance requested - 800-836-1560 or rsvp@thebravogroup.com

Please see flyer (image above, link to pdf copy here for details)


West Goshen Approves Settlement with Sunoco

Last night West Goshen Supervisors unanimously approved the settlement with Sunoco. As we understand it, this effectively ends the fight for West Goshen. Links to various reports are below.

Settlement-full text
Daily Local News article
Audio archives


Gas-line blast at California shooting range injures 11


Photo: AP

Associated Press By SCOTT SMITH and OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ 10 hours ago

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A natural gas pipeline explosion at a California sheriff's gun range shot flames well over 100 feet into the air, left 11 people injured and brought traffic on a busy highway to a halt, authorities and witnesses said.

The explosion on a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pipe happened at the Fresno County Sheriff's gun range while an equipment operator was using a front-loader to build a dirt berm to confine gunfire to the range, the sheriff's department said. A group of county jail inmates were doing cleanup work nearby and most were injured in the blast.

Traffic heading north and south on Highway 99 in Fresno was halted by the explosion at about 2:30 p.m. as flames towered over the roadway, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Freelance photographer Kevin Ling, 42, was driving by shortly after the blast when he saw fire flying into the sky.

"As I got closer, the flames were just bigger and bigger," he said. "It was shooting up to 200 feet or more, and a fireball maybe 10 to 15 feet in diameter. It was like out of a movie."

"My window was up and my AC was on and it still felt like a furnace inside my car," he added.

The 12-inch diameter pipeline involved in the fire belongs to PG&E, said Pete Martinez of the Fresno Fire Department. It's unclear if the front-loader was being used to dig at the time of the explosion, he said.

The driver of the front-loader was a county public works employee who had been working at the shooting range all day, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said. Ten inmates and the operator were hospitalized, she said.

Four patients were being treated at Community Regional Medical Center's burn and trauma unit, spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell said. Three of them were in critical condition and one was in serious condition, she said.

The other seven injured were taken to two other hospitals.

Mims noted PG&E had, some time ago, marked the location of gas lines in the construction zones. Asked whether the driver was scraping or digging the earth when the gas exploded, the sheriff said her office is investigating.

"Hopefully we'll be able to speak to the worker to see what action he was taking at the time," she said.

PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles said the pipeline was damaged by a vehicle and that the line was buried but he didn't know how deeply. The flame from the pipe was extinguished about an hour and a half after the blast, he said.

Highway 99 was reopened about three hours after the blast, the California Highway Patrol said.

A nearby rail line was also halted out of concern that a passing train could spark leaking gas, Martinez said.

The California Public Utilities Commission said in a statement that it is investigating the explosion in cooperation with the Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

PG&E's natural-gas operations have been under scrutiny following a fiery 2010 PG&E pipeline blast that killed eight people in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno. National Transportation Safety Board investigators blamed faulty safety practices by PG&E, and lax oversight by state regulators, for the 2010 blast.

source


Settlement Proposal Discussed

— Strong opposition from residents —

It seems as though the West Goshen Board of Supervisors is politically overdrawn; about this time last year the Board stated they would fight Sunoco, to the appellate level if it went that far. Based on the comments by West Goshen’s Special Counsel last night, the utility status, safety and eminent domain aren't winnable fights.

The Board now faces a tough choice:

  • Agree to what appears to be the best long-term choice (and face a possible election massacre), or,
  • Continue to resist Sunoco, potentially allowing Sunoco to run unbridled through West Goshen. And, forfeit the additional safety measures that Sunoco's offering in the settlement.

Supervisor Halvorsen alluded to Board members losing their positions as a consequence of this issue:

"So, having said this [signing the settlement], are they going to throw us out? ...We're all fired?"

 

West Goshen Special Counsel David Brooman speaks to residents
Click to enlarge - reuse encouraged with credit

While it’s unfortunate the Board wrote political checks the Township couldn’t cash, the true responsibility lies in Harrisburg. The turning point for this issue was sometime in 2012, when the Public Utility Commission granted Sunoco, et al utility status. Few heard about it, and even fewer outside of Sunoco grasped the significance of this.

The Sunoco settlement, summarized as we understand it:

  • It has been tabled until May 13th, at which time West Goshen will review it again.
  • The construction restrictions cover only the pumping station and the newly-purchased 4 acre parcel. It will have no impact on the existing pipeline, or future pipeline construction.
  • Benefactors: The residents located around the pumping station will apparently enjoy a reduced profile flaring stack, the newly-purchased 4 acre parcel will be deed-restricted from any future construction. This will include any future property owners.
  • West Goshen Township will be out of the dispute, permanently. This includes, but isn’t limited to Mariner-2, Mariner-3, -4 and so on.
  • East Boot Road property owners and others in the path of the pipelines - you're on your own. The property owners that are in the path of future pipelines will be likely facing eminent domain based acquisition by Sunoco. West Goshen doesn’t believe they have any options to assist these people. For residents in the path of additional pipelines, consider preparing to move.
West Goshen Police presence
Click to enlarge - reuse encouraged with credit


Notable quotes from West Goshen residents during the meeting:

"...the laws just don't support the average citizens in these kinds of situations. They are built by corporations...and the businesses that have the influence."

"...and you're giving residents four minutes to defend their property? You should be ashamed."

"This is not a settlement, this is a surrender."

"This settlement has given everything away, if it's signed. So I say fight. Stick to your promise about fighting this at the appellate level - a promise you made."

"I understand, Ms. Camp the new information that was given to you, it doesn't change the fact that we are important as a people, we elected you to represent us. Please do the right thing. I'm against it and I hope you vote against signing it."

"...you can spend 7.5 million dollars on a garage but you can't protect West Goshen. It's a disgrace and it makes me sick."

The upshot for the Board: With all of the East Boot Road residences gone between Greenhill Road and Wilson Drive, they’ll be free to widen East Boot Road without much opposition. This will almost certainly come as good news to QVC, UPS and the (dormant) Traditions Development project.

Related news articles:

Daily Local News - West Goshen tables pumping station agreement with Sunoco

Philly.com - West Goshen vote put off on pipeline settlement

Also see WG BOS Minutes dated March 11, 2015: "Mr. Walker Tompkins asked if the Board of Supervisors were going to support residents in cases of eminent domain. The Board responded no, that is a private property issue between residents and Sunoco." - link to source.


Settlement Under Consideration

— Eminent Domain, East Boot residences not discussed —

L

ooks like Sunoco's getting their pumping station on Kirkland Hill. Most of the discussion has been over the pumping station, land use and technical details regarding the pumping station. It also appears this was mostly a conversation between Sunoco and Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township, and CCWGT's safety concerns. What's interesting is what's missing: no one except CCWGT and West Goshen were party to this, and no detailed discussion of Mariner II.

— Mariner East 2 "in the planning phase" —

Discussion of Mariner II seems to be general agreements about reporting and safety.

What you need to know as a Boot Road resident:

  • This latest development appears to address the issue of the pumping station on Kirkland Hill, and only for Mariner 1 (the existing subterranean pipeline) that follows East Boot Road. It appears that it's been optimized to minimize the impact on Kirkland Hill residents, which might be a reason why everyone else was excluded from this discussion.
  • This latest development gives scant mention regarding Mariner 2, which will have a far greater impact on West Goshen. If you aren't familiar with the different projects, Mariner II is a new pipeline that will require new construction and easements, which is where eminent domain fits into the picture.
  • If you plan to attend the meeting on April 14th, we encourage residents to ask specific questions that include Mariner 2. The meeting starts at 6:30 PM, details are on West Goshen's web page (link).

The original files:

Press Release

Fact Sheet

Proposed Settlement Agreement and Safety Report

Original text:

MARINER EAST I

PROPOSED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BY AND BETWEEN WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHP, SUNOCO PIPELINE, LP AND THE CONCERNED CITIZENS OF WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP

FACT SHEET

Executive Summary

Township special counsel recommend that the West Goshen Township Board of Supervisors approve the settlement that has been negotiated with Sunoco Pipeline, LP and the Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township and conclude the litigation pending before the Public Utility Commission. The settlement has significant benefits for the residents of the Township that cannot be obtained by litigation, and therefore should be approved.

Why do we recommend this settlement?

 

a. The settlement commits Sunoco Pipeline, LP to limiting its pump station operation to the present site on Boot Road. Except for a valve station installation, Sunoco Pipeline, LP agrees not to build any above ground facilities on the additional four acres it purchased for the purpose of constructing and operating a new pump station. A Restrictive Covenant on the land will be recorded to enforce this commitment.

b. A nationally recognized pipeline safety expert retained by the Township has evaluated the Mariner East 1 project and proposed various safety improvements which Sunoco Pipeline, LP has agreed to implement. The expert has opined that the project exceeds federal pipeline safety standards and meets the new Integrity Management guidance that the federal government has developed for similar repurposed pipeline operations.

c. The safety expert concluded:

 

“It is . . . Accufacts’ opinion that Sunoco, on the Mariner East pipeline segment that could affect the Township, is exceeding federal pipeline safety regulations in utilizing additional integrity management approaches, prudent pump station design, mainline valve placement and actuation, pipeline monitoring, as well as control room procedures, automatic release detection safety systems, and emergency notification protocols that reflect the level of respect that transporting HVL [High Volatile Liquids] should require in a prudent pipeline operation. While these efforts cannot guarantee against a release, they reflect a safety attitude that applies up to date steps to avoid a release and respect for the consequences a material release could produce, especially rupture. Accufacts concludes that the Mariner East phase 1 project, with the enhancements discussed above, meets or exceeds the prudent technical approach commensurate with the safe transportation of HVL.”

d. The Public Utility Commission has made it clear that siting, environmental and safety concerns will not be heard in the case filed by Sunoco Pipeline, LP to override local zoning, land development and building codes.

e. Efforts to argue that Sunoco Pipeline, LP is not a public utility or that it lacks necessary service rights will not be successful before the Public Utility Commission or on appeal.

f. The Township’s safety expert does not recommend a safety complaint against Sunoco Pipeline, LP, or that the Township seek any significant further improvements in the Mariner East 1 project at this time.

The points summarized above are presented with more detail as follows.

Procedural Posture of the Public Utility Commission Proceeding: Petition of Sunoco Pipeline, L.P., for a Finding that the Situation of Structures to Shelter Pump Stations and Valve Control Stations is Reasonably Necessary for the Convenience or Welfare of the Public, Docket No. P- 2014-2411966.

Two years ago, Sunoco Pipeline LP launched Mariner East, a project to repurpose part of its oil pipeline network in Pennsylvania. Instead of carrying refinery products from its Marcus Hook refinery located in Pennsylvania and Delaware westward, the system would carry propane, ethane and other natural gas liquids derived from the Marcellus Shale region eastward to Marcus Hook.

In March 2014, in furtherance of its Mariner East 1 project, Sunoco Pipeline LP petitioned the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC” or “Commission”) to exempt eighteen new or expanded pump stations and a number of valve stations from local zoning and land development regulations. The petition contemplated the construction and operation of a new pump station on land acquired by Sunoco Logistics, LP, located adjacent to its existing Boot Road pump station.

The project as proposed by Sunoco Pipeline, LP in March 2014, was limited to interstate transportation. Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township (“Concerned Citizens”) and other parties to the proceeding filed preliminary objections on the grounds that an interstate oil pipeline is not a “public utility” under Pennsylvania law, and thus does not qualify for a PUC ruling to override local zoning, land development and building regulations. West Goshen Township and other parties intervened.

In May 2014, Sunoco Pipeline, LP filed an amended petition stating that Sunoco Pipeline, LP plans to offer both intrastate and interstate service on Mariner East. Concerned Citizens and others renewed their preliminary objections.

On July 30, 2014, the Administrative Law Judges recommended dismissing Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s petition. Sunoco Pipeline, LP filed exceptions, and in response, the Township joined Concerned Citizens and others in reasserting the defects in Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s claims for the Mariner East project.

While the exceptions were pending, in a separate proceeding, Sunoco Pipeline, LP received a certificate from the Commission to begin eastbound transportation of propane and butane in portions of the system in western Pennsylvania. Sunoco Pipeline, LP applied for certificate rights in one township which the Commission approved. Sunoco Pipeline, LP also filed a rate schedule for intrastate service which the Commission approved.

By Opinion and Order dated October 29, 2014, the Commission overruled the preliminary objections rejecting each of the arguments raised by the Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township, the Township and other party interveners.

The Township proceeded with written discovery directed to Sunoco Pipeline, LP in July 2014. The interrogatories and document production requests explored all evidence Sunoco Pipeline, LP might have to support its claim that it has a valid certificate granting applicable service rights as a public utility, as well as all information regarding the service to be offered through Mariner East. Sunoco provided answers and produced documents, subject to a confidentiality agreement and protective order, which special counsel has studied carefully.

On behalf of the Township, special counsel retained Accufacts, Inc. and in particular Richard Kuprewicz, its President, to review the safety aspects of the Mariner East 1 project. Mr. Kuprewicz is a nationally recognized expert in gas and liquid pipeline investigation, risk management, operations, maintenance, emergency response and safety. Mr. Kuprewicz currently serves as a member representing the public on the federal Technical Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standards Committee (“THLPSSC”), a technical committee established by Congress to advise the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on pipeline safety regulations. The THLPSCC members are appointed by the Secretary of Transportation. Mr. Kuprewicz is often called in to analyze pipeline safety problems, working for both industry and public bodies.

Mr. Kuprewicz was retained to advise on the safety of the Mariner East 1 project, Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s integrity management program, and its compliance with federal law and regulations. The Township conferred with him regarding key safety concerns such as the age of the pipeline, the proposed plan to reverse the flow and repurpose the pipeline to move propane and ethane, testing protocols, and all aspects of Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s integrity management program.

After considering the Commission’s Order dated October 29, 2014, preliminary information from Mr. Kuprewicz, and the interrogatory answers and documents secured at that time from Sunoco Pipeline, LP, the Township’s special counsel recommended initiating settlement discussions. Counsel contacted Sunoco Pipeline, LP and proceeded with additional confidential discovery focused on safety and Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s public utility status.

Safety Inquiry and Conclusions

Meetings and conference calls were held over period of four months between Mr. Kuprewicz and Sunoco Pipeline, LP engineers, including Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s Vice-President of Engineering and others. Sunoco supplied extensive data, including detailed information about the existing pipeline for the parts of the Mariner East 1 project that had the potential to impact residents of West Goshen Township. Sunoco provided details as to the proposed design of the Boot Road pump station and the vapor combustion unit (a/k/a “flare”) to be placed there. Sunoco provided the details of the safety practices in its operation, the implementation of pressure tests prior to utilizing the pipeline, and other detailed information. All questions posed by Mr. Kuprewicz were answered by Sunoco Pipeline, LP in detail.

In March 2015, special counsel for the Township received Mr. Kuprewicz’s initial report on the safety of the Mariner East 1 project. His report recommended certain design and operating changes and clarifications in the repurposing and management of the pipeline. He has opined that the safety precautions being taken, with his recommended changes, meet or exceed federal safety regulations.

The safety program, with his recommendations, also exceed the Integrity Management guidelines recently developed by PHMSA, the federal pipeline safety agency, that are not yet officially required.

Mr. Kuprewicz concludes:

 

“It is . . . Accufacts’ opinion that Sunoco, on the Mariner East pipeline segment that could affect the Township, is exceeding federal pipeline safety regulations in utilizing additional integrity management approaches, prudent pump station design, mainline valve placement and actuation, pipeline monitoring, as well as control room procedures, automatic release detection safety systems, and emergency notification protocols that reflect the level of respect that transporting HVL [High Volatile Liquids] should require in a prudent pipeline operation. While these efforts cannot guarantee against a release, they reflect a safety attitude that applies up to date steps to avoid a release and respect for the consequences a material release could produce, especially rupture. Accufacts concludes that the Mariner East phase 1 project, with the enhancements discussed above, meets or exceeds the prudent technical approach commensurate with the safe transportation of HVL.”

Is Sunoco a Public Utility?

The legal authority and process by which the Public Utility Commission can override local zoning, land development and building codes applies to pubic utility facilities. In order to be a public utility, an oil pipeline must offer intrastate service subject to Public Utility Commission jurisdiction.

In 2002, Sunoco succeeded to the certificate rights granted by the Commission to its predecessors, primarily Sun Oil and Atlantic Refining. Those rights related to the transportation of refinery products from Marcus Hook to markets. Sunoco Pipeline, LP established to special counsel for the Township in discovery that it is now offering intrastate service for transportation of ethane and propane from points west and north to the Marcus Hook refinery.

The entity also must have a tariff on file that a proposed customer can utilize. Sunoco Pipeline, LP has placed an intrastate tariff on file with the Commission, which tariff was approved on August 21, 2014.

Arguments were made that Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s certificate rights do not cover transporting propane or ethane derived from natural gas. Arguments also were presented that its certificates authorize only transportation west from the Marcus Hook Refinery, not east to the refinery. These arguments were rejected by the Commission in its Order entered on October 29, 2014. Sunoco Pipeline, LP filed for service rights in one township in western Pennsylvania. The Commission promptly granted the request, pointing up the futility of these arguments and confirming Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s public utility status.

On studying the Commission’s lengthy Order of October 29, 2014 discussing Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s project and its claim to public utility status, Township special counsel concluded that (l) arguments against public utility status for Mariner East are unlikely to succeed, and (2) even if some technical flaw in Sunoco’s authorizations are shown, Sunoco Pipeline, LP would quickly file an application proceeding to cure it which would be approved by the Commission.

Settlement Agreement Primary Terms:

Alongside the safety discussions, special counsel for the Township engaged Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s lawyers in detailed negotiations for a possible settlement of the cases involving the Township and the Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township. The product is a proposed settlement agreement with the following essential terms and conditions:

 

1. Sunoco Pipeline, LP will not build a new pumping station in West Goshen Township as proposed in its Petition to the Commission. Rather, Sunoco Pipeline, LP will operate the pumps and appurtenant equipment it requires for the project within the present site that it has occupied for decades.

2. Except for a valve station installation, Sunoco Pipeline, LP agrees not to build any above ground facilities on the additional four acres it purchased for the purpose of constructing and operating a new pump station. A Restrictive Covenant on the newly acquired four acre parcel will be recorded to enforce this commitment.

3. Sunoco will automate the two valves on its pipeline nearest the Township borders to the east and to the west, so that in an emergency they will automatically close to cut off the flow and potential release of product.

4. Sunoco will add a third automated valve just north of the Boot Road Pump Station, within and at the east end of the additional property it has purchased. In all, five automated valves will protect the Township from avoidable injury.

5. Sunoco will build its vapor combustion unit (a/k/a “flare”) at the east end of the property, a distance in excess of 300 feet from the homes on Mary Jane Lane and a distance in excess of 120 feet from the homes on the south side of Boot Road. There will be no visible flare under normal conditions and noise is expected to be at a decibel level in compliance with the Township’s noise regulations.

6. Sunoco Logistics, LP will provide immediate notice to the Township of any Mariner East pipeline condition changes requiring remediation under federal regulation, and provide a written report within thirty (30) days describing the remediation undertaken or to be undertaken.

7. Sunoco Pipeline, LP will prepare a landscaping plan and implement measures to appropriately screen its facilities. The Township will consult with nearby homeowners on the proposed landscaping plan and screening.

8. In connection with Mariner East 2, now in the planning phase, Sunoco will provide safety data comparable to that given to the Township’ expert consultant in this case, and will confer with the expert on safety matters.

9. The Township will not join in a safety complaint at the PUC, or file its own, assuming the safety measures are implemented by Sunoco Pipeline, LP, and maintained.

10. The Township and Concerned Citizens agree not to challenge Sunoco Pipeline, LP’s public utility status, assuming the facts presented in the present case continue to exist.

11. The Township and Concerned Citizens can utilize the Commission to assure that safety agreements are met, and the Chester County Court of Common Pleas to enforce the Restrictive Covenant.

HIGH SWARTZ LLP

By: Kenneth R. Myers, Esquire David J. Brooman, Esquire

Special Counsel to West Goshen Township


PROPOSED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT --NOT FINAL UNTIL SIGNED BY ALL PARTIES

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

 

This Agreement is made by, between, and among Sunoco Pipeline, LP., a limited partnership organized under the laws of the State of Texas (“SPLP”) West Goshen Township, a Township of the Second Class located in Chester County, Pennsylvania (“WGT); and, Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township, an ad hoc association of individual persons each of whom owns and resides on property adjacent to or within approximately 1.000 feet of the properties owned by SPLP near Boot Road in WGT (“CCWGT”), hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Parties”.

I. Background

 

A. On March 21, 2D14, Sunoco filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission) requesting, inter ala, approval for the situation and construction of a building on property owned by SPLP near Boot Road in WGT to house facilities related to a pump station (“SPLP Petition”). The Boot Road Pump Station, and an associated Vapor Combustion Unit (“VCU”). would serve a natural gas liquids pipeline owned by SPLP that is part of project commonly known as Mariner East, which would transport propane, ethane, and other natural gas liquids from points west and north of WGT to points in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and the Slate of Delaware. The Commission docketed the proceeding at P-20l4-2411966.

B. On April 18, 2014, CCWGT filed a Protest and Preliminary Objections to the SPLP Petition. On April 21, 2014, WGT intervened as of right in the Commission docket.

C. In response to the Preliminary Objections of CCWGT and other parties, SPLP filed an Amended Petition against which further preliminary objections were filed by CCWGT, WGT, and other parties.

D. After the exchange of various other pleadings, the Commission issued an Opinion and Order dated October 29, 2014, that denied all preliminary objections and returned the matter to the Office of Administrative Law Judge for further proceedings.

E. On November 7, 2014, CCWGT filed a Formal Complaint with the Commission against SPLP concerning alleged safety concerns with proposed SPLP facilities in WGT, docketed at C-2014-2451943 ("CCWGT Complaint"). After the exchange of various pleadings, the Administrative Law Judges assigned to the CCWGT Complaint denied SPLP's preliminary objections to the Complaint and denied CCWGT'S request to consolidate its Complaint with the SPLP Petition.

F. Subsequent to, and as a result of, these procedural matters, the Parties exchanged information (both formally and informally) and conducted settlement negotiations in an attempt to resolve this litigation and related matters.

II. Pertinent Information Provided by SPLP

 

A. SPLP has provided WGT and WGT's consulting expert with the following information ("SPLP Information"). WGT and CCWGT expressly rely upon the accuracy of the SPLP Information in reaching this Agreement.

1. As used herein, the phrase "Mariner East Project" refers to the existing Mariner East I pipeline and appurtenant facilities, and all additional pipelines and appurtenant facilities to be owned and/or operated by SPLP in WGT for the transportation of propane, ethane, butane, and/ or other natural gas liquids.

2. The pump station, the VCU and all accessory and appurtenant above-ground facilities associated with all phases of the Mariner East Project will be maintained within the present active site, Parcel No. 52-1-8-U, on which the existing Boot Road Pump Station currently operates (the “SPLP Existing Site”), except that a remote operated valve station will be constructed and maintained on SPLP’s adjacent 4.42 acre property, Parcel No. 52-0-10-10.1, also known as the former Janiec Tract, (the “SPLP Additional Acreage”). The proposed location of such valve station on the SPLP Additional Acreage is depicted on the map attached hereto as Appendix 1 and incorporated by reference (the “SPLP Use Area”). Subject to any engineering constraints, SPLP intends to construct the valve station in the general area depicted on the map attached hereto as Appendix 1. If due to engineering constraints, SPLP is unable to construct the valve station in the SPLP Use Area, SPLP will notify WGT. Nothing in this Settlement Agreement constitutes an authorization or agreement for SPLP to construct the valve station in any location on the SPLP Additional Acreage other than in the SPLP Use Area.

3. As of the date of execution of this Agreement, SPLP has no plan or intention to construct any additional above-ground permanent utility facilities in WGT except as otherwise expressly set forth in this Agreement.

4. Consistent with its engineering plans for all Mariner East 1 pump stations, there will be an enclosed VCU at the Boot Road Pump Station. The location of the VCU on the SPLP Existing Site will be as noted on the map provided to WGT and CCWGT attached hereto as Appendix 2 and incorporated by reference. The VCU is designed and will be constructed and operated to contain any pilot light or flame completely within its structure such that no flame is visible outside the pump station site except in rare instances. In the event of a rare instance in which a flame is visible, in addition to first responders and emergency responders to which SPLP currently provides notification, SPLP shall notify the WGT Township Manager of the circumstances causing the flame to be visible.

5. The VCU is designed so that the anticipated noise level at a distance of 145 feet is 51.3 decibels, as shown on the noise diagram provided by SPLP to WGT and CCWGT attached hereto as Appendix 3 and incorporated by reference.

6. As is the case for all of its products pipelines, the Mariner East Project present and proposed pipelines are included within SPLP’s current rupture monitoring system which has several alarms designed for different pipeline conditions and events. Included in SPLP's rupture monitoring system is the Inter Site Automatic Close Logic system (ISACL), a first line of defense automated alarm system designed to automatically shut-down the pipeline and close remotely operated valves on the mainline in the event of a rupture or low pressure on the pipeline. Each individual Mariner East Project pipeline station shall be equipped with an automated shutdown and upset condition response logic that is triggered for all or any segment of the Mariner East Project. If triggered, the pipeline or a segment of the pipeline shall be automatically shut-down and the remotely operated valves impacting the mainline pipeline closed, with no operator discretion. The ISACL system can be triggered by other locations on the pipeline or can be initiated locally and it will trigger events at other pipeline locations.

7. SPLP currently maintains remotely operated inlet and outlet valves at its Boot Road Pump Station in WGT that are controlled by a centralized control room, and these valves will be used in connection with the Mariner East Project. In addition, SPLP maintains a number of remotely operated valves and manual valves, including manual valves at pipeline markers 228 and 236.6 (the pipeline valve locations immediately upstream and downstream from Boot Road) in connection with its Mariner East Project. As part of its final design, SPLP is installing remotely operated valves that are controlled by its centralized control room at pipeline markers 228 and 236.6. SPLP will use commercially reasonable efforts to apply for any permits, rights of way, approvals and extensions of utility service within sixty (60) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement. These remotely operated valves will be installed within ninety (90) days after receipt of all necessary permits, rights of way, approvals, and extensions of utility service.

III. WGT’s Safety Review.

 

1. WGT has engaged Accufacts, Inc,. and its President, Richard Kuprewicz, a nationally recognized expert in the field of liquids pipeline safety, to prepare a written report as to the safety of Mariner East 1 (the “Kuprewicz Report”) based on the design and engineering facts and information heretofore provided by SPLP. The Kuprewicz Report is attached as Appendix 5 hereto and is made a part of this Agreement.

IV. The Parties’ Promises, Covenants and Agreements

 

A. Based on the SPLP Information recited in Section II of this Agreement, the Parties agree to make the following promises, covenants and agreements:

1. SPLP covenants and agrees as follows:

 

a. Because of its existing Pump Station Facility at Boot Road, except with respect to the SPLP Use Area, SPLP covenants and agrees that it shall not construct or install any pump stations, VCUs or above-ground permanent public utility facilities on the SPLP Additional Acreage for any phase of the Mariner East Project. SPLP also agrees that, except for the SPLP Use Area, any use of the SPLP Additional Acreage for staging construction, laydown or other operational activity will be temporary, and SPLP will restore the surface to its former condition following the completion of such activity. SPLP will execute and record a deed restriction reflecting this limitation within sixty (60) days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, in a form substantially similar to the Form of Deed Restriction attached hereto as Appendix 4. SPLP will provide copies of the recorded deed restriction to counsel for WGT and CCWGT within five business days of the date of recording.

b. SPLP will provide the WGT Township Manager with immediate notice of any Mariner East pipeline condition changes requiring remediation under 49 CFR Section l95.452(h)(4)(i), (ii), (iii) or (iv) that potentially could impact WGT, and thereafter will provide a written report within thirty (30) days describing the remediation efforts undertaken by SPLP, the location of the remediation efforts, and the expected timeframe within which these remediation efforts will be completed.

c. Within thirty (30) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement, SPLP agrees to consult with WGT officials concerning land development plans, including landscaping and fencing plans, with respect to the SPLP Existing Site and the SPLP Additional Acreage and to provide WGT officials with any existing landscaping or screening plans for such areas.

2. WGT covenants and agrees as follows:

 

a. WGT shall not oppose the thirty-four feet (34') height proposed for the VCU.

b. WGT consents to the withdrawal by SPLP of the SPLP Petition now pending before the Commission, and will not initiate any action or proceeding claiming that the existing or reconfigured pump station at Boot Road violates WGT's zoning or land development ordinances.

c. For so long as SPLP offers to provide intrastate petroleum and refined petroleum products pipeline service to the public, including transportation of propane or ethane, WGT will not contest, dispute or protest SPLP’s service for lack of public utility status in any federal, state, local or regulatory proceeding or file any lawsuit, litigation or action or join any lawsuit, litigation or action with respect thereto.

d. As long as SPLP (i) constructs and operates facilities in WGT as described in Section 11 above; (ii) abides by the covenants and agreements in Section III.A.l above; and (iii) operates in a manner consistent with the safety, design and engineering facts and information heretofore provided to WGT'S consultant, WGT agrees that it will not file or join in any complaint against the safety of SPLP’s service or facilities with the Commission or any other federal, state or local government agency or endorse or promote any protest or action filed by the CCWGT or any other individual or group against SPLP with respect to the safety of Mariner East l or the valve station described in paragraph II.A.2. of this Agreement.

e. With respect to Mariner East 2, SPLP agrees, upon the execution of a mutually agreeable confidentiality agreement, that it will provide to Accufacts, Inc. or a person or entity acting for WGT that is similarly a nationally recognized expert in the field of liquids pipeline safety (“Liquids Pipeline Safety Expert”) information relating to Mariner East 2 of a similar nature that was provided regarding Mariner East 1 for review by the Liquids Pipeline Safety Expert. WGT and its expert will meet and confer with SPLP with respect to any concerns the Liquids Pipeline Safety Expert may have related to safety and SPLP will be provided an opportunity to respond thereto, before WGT would file any formal protest or other action raising any safety issue related to Mariner East 2.

f. WGT will treat as public information any notifications provided to the Township Manager by SPLP concerning (1) the circumstances causing the visibility of a flame from the VCU, or (2) Mariner East Project pipeline condition changes requiring remediation under 49 CFR Section l95.452(h)(4)(i), (ii), (iii) or (iv), and will make such information available to members of the public in accordance with standard WGT procedures for access to public information.

3. CCWGT covenants and agrees as follows:

 

a. The members of CCWGT are identified in Appendix 6 attached hereto.

b. CCWGT consents to the withdrawal by SPLP of the SPLP Petition now pending before the Commission and will not initiate any action or proceeding claiming that the existing or reconfigured pump station at Boot Road violates WGT's zoning or land development ordinances.

c. For so long as SPLP offers to provide intrastate petroleum and refined petroleum products pipeline service to the public, including transportation of propane or ethane, CCWGT will not contest, dispute or protest SPLP’s service for lack of public utility status in any federal, state, local or regulatory proceeding or file any lawsuit, litigation or action or join any lawsuit, litigation or action with respect thereto.

d. Within five (5) business days after the Effective Date, CCWGT agrees to mark as satisfied and withdraw the CCWGT Complaint.

e. As long as SPLP (i) constructs and operates facilities in WGT as described in Section II above; (ii) abides by the covenants and agreements in Section III.A.l above; and (iii) operates in a manner consistent with the safety, design and engineering facts and information heretofore provided to WGT's consultant, CCWGT agrees that it will not file or join in any complaint against the safety of SPLP’s service or facilities with the Commission or any other federal, state or local government agency or endorse or promote any protest or action filed by any other individual or group against SPLP with respect to the safety of Mariner East 1 or the valve station described in paragraph II.A.2. of this Agreement.

V. General Provisions

 

A. In addition to the individual promises, covenants and agreements set forth above, the Parties individually and jointly acknowledge and agree as follows:

1. This Agreement is an agreement between a public utility and a municipal corporation that must be filed with the Commission at least 30 days prior to its effective date in order to be legally valid and binding, as set forth in 66 Pa. C.S. § 507. The Parties agree, therefore, that this Agreement shall be filed by SPLP with the Commission within five calendar days after it is duly executed by all parties. The Parties further agree to fully support this Agreement in any proceeding instituted by the Commission concerning this Agreement, and to refrain from taking any position before the Commission that is contrary to, or inconsistent with, the terms and conditions of the Agreement.

2. The Parties acknowledge and agree that the Effective Date of this Agreement shall be the date which is 35 calendar days after the last date on which the Agreement is executed by all Parties, as shown below.

3. The Parties acknowledge and agree that any action to enforce the deed restriction on the use of the SPLP Additional Acreage shall be brought before the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.

4. The Parties acknowledge and agree that any action to enforce any provision of this Agreement (other than the deed restriction on the use of the SPLP Additional Acreage) shall be brought before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission or any such successor agency or commission.

5. This Agreement shall be binding on the Parties, their successors and assigns.

6. This Agreement may be executed in one or more counterparts, each of which is an original and all of which together constitute one and the same instrument.

1 - Settlement excerpt downloaded from http://www.westgoshen.org/News/Sunoco.cfm
2 - Portions of this transcript were converted by OCR technology, we've made every reasonable effort to correct typos.


Today's Fortune Cookie Quote

The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing, because you think you can do only a little. (Sydney Smith)


West Goshen Gives Pipeline Update

— The company says it will withdraw all of the 31 petitions it had initially submitted to be exempt from such laws, including the one in West Goshen. —

WEST GOSHEN >> Residents at a township meeting Wednesday heard news about the proposed Sunoco Logistics pipeline project here, but will have to wait for other shoes to drop before deciding whether it is good or bad as officials continue negotiating with the company.

Last week, Sunoco Logistics told the state’s Public Utility Commission that it would drop plans surrounding its proposed new pump station in West Goshen. The plan had drawn criticism from local residents not only because of its scope and location, but because the company had said it intended to divert away from local zoning ordinances to build it.

The company says it will withdraw all of the 31 petitions it had initially submitted to be exempt from such laws, including the one in West Goshen.

West Goshen supervisors had said the township would take the company to court if the permit exemption was granted.

Board Vice Chairman Theodore J. Murphy said in an interview Thursday that the PUC had yet to make a final determination on the Sunoco withdrawal.

At Wednesday’s meeting, officials told the residents in attendance that the township continued to negotiate with the company over its plans at Boot Road, plans that apparently no longer include a new pump station for the 299-mile natural gas pipeline, but instead involved reworking the existing station there.

The township has hired an attorney, David Brooman, to deal with Public Utility Commission matters involving safety concerns at the pipeline pump station. He said Wednesday that he could not discuss the ongoing negotiations. Brooman, however, added that an agreement could be reached in the next 60 days.

“In my opinion, it is too early to tell whether (Sunoco’s announcement) is good news or bad,” Murphy said. “But the current and past board members, every single one of us, are concerned with the safety of our residents.”

source

Contractor Working at Sunoco Logistics Dies in Accident

MARCUS HOOK >> An accident on-site at Sunoco Logistics resulted in the death of a contractor this afternoon, company spokesman Joseph McGinn said.

McGinn did not release the individual’s name or employer because the next of kin have not yet been notified.

“We are saddened to report that at approximately 2:30 p.m. today a contractor working at our Marcus Hook Industrial Complex was fatally injured on the job,” McGinn stated in a brief press release. “No words can express the sorrow and pain that come when such a tragic event happens. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the individual who died. They have suffered a devastating loss.”

Looks like this sign will be updated soon.

source

Latest filing: Sunoco's Petition for Extension of Time

Sunoco's optimistic that it will reach a settlement with West Goshen, asks PUC for more time. Concerned Citizens of West Goshen don't object.

source


Sunoco withdraws 22 petitions, West Goshen Isn't One of Them.

Excerpt:

"The petition for leave to withdraw states that Sunoco has continued to work with the townships listed above to settle and resolve the issues presented in the amended petitions. The petition for leave to withdraw avers that Sunoco has obtained zoning approvals from some of the townships, determined that zoning exemptions are not required for some of the townships, or has elected not to enclose the valve control stations in some of the townships. According to Sunoco, its actions have rendered some of its amended petitions moot. Since the amended petitions listed above have been rendered as moot, Sunoco no longer seeks an exemption from local zoning requirements in the above-listed townships.The petition requests that the Commission grant Sunoco’s petition for leave to withdraw its amended petitions."

...

"The 22 petitions are as follows:

  • P-2014-2411941 Wallace Township, Chester County
  • P-2014-2411943 Lower Swatara Township, Dauphin County
  • P-2014-2411944 East Wheatfield Township, Indiana County
  • P-2014-2411945 Fairview Township, York County
  • P-2014-2411946 North Middleton Township, Cumberland County
  • P-2014-2411948 Frankstown Township, Blair County
  • P-2014-2411951 Derry Township, Westmoreland County
  • P-2014-2411952 Loyalhanna Township, Westmoreland County
  • P-2014-2411953 Penn Township, Westmoreland County
  • P-2014-2411954 Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County
  • P-2014-2411956 Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County
  • P-2014-2411957 Allegheny Township, Blair County
  • P-2014-2411958 Union Township, Washington County
  • P-2014-2411960 North Strabane Township, Washington County
  • P-2014-2411961 Penn Township, Huntingdon County
  • P-2014-2411963 Chartiers Township, Washington County
  • P-2014-2411964 Shirley Township, Huntingdon County
  • P-2014-2411965 Upper Chichester Township, Delaware County
  • P-2014-2411967 Toboyne Township, Perry County
  • P-2014-2411972 Spring Township, Berks County
  • P-2014-2411974 Hampden Township, Cumberland County
  • P-2014-2411980 Salem Township, Westmoreland County"

What's missing? West Goshen. The fight continues.

source


Sunoco's Protection Order Request Granted

The first rule about SPLP (Sunoco) is don't talk about SPLP

On February 17, 2015, Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. (Sunoco)filed a motion requesting that we issue a protective order in this proceeding, pursuant to 52 Pa.Code § 5.365(a) and enclosing a proposed order with its motion. Sunoco alleges in its motion that Proprietary Information as described in 52 Pa.Code § 5.365has been requested during the course of these proceedings.

The motion asserts that parties to this proceeding have sought in information that is customarily treated as sensitive, proprietary or highly confidential, such as information related to Sunoco’s customers. In addition parties have sought information concerning the location of certain pump stations, valve control stations and other public utility facilities, which would raise critical infrastructure security concerns.

Sunoco’s motion argues that unrestricted disclosure of such information would not be in the public interest. According to Sunoco’s motion, these considerations constitute cause for the restriction set forth in 52 Pa.Code §5.365.The parties represented by counsel do not object to the motion.

The Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure permit the Commission to issue protective orders limiting the availability of certain trade secret or other confidential information. 52 Pa.Code §5.365. The party seeking the protective order has the burden to establish that the potential harm to the party providing the information would be substantial and the harm to the party if the information is disclosed without restriction outweighs the public’s interest in free and open access to the administrative hearing process.52 Pa.Code §5.365(a),Petition for Protective Order of GTE North Inc., 1996 Pa PUC LEXIS 95,Docket No. G-00940402, (Order entered August 8, 1996); ITT Communications Services’ Petition for a Protective Order, 1991 Pa PUC LEXIS 193,Docket No. R-912017, (Order entered November 5, 1991)

In determining whether to issue a protective order, the Commission, pursuant to 52 Pa.Code §5.365(a), should consider the following factors:

(1) The extent to which the disclosure would cause unfair economic or competitive damage.

(2) The extent to which the information is known by others and used in similar activities.

(3) The worth or value of the information to the party and to the party’s competitors.

(4) The degree of difficulty and cost of developing the information.

(5) Other statutes or regulations dealing specifically with disclosure of the information.

The proposed protective order defines protected information as Proprietary Information. Proprietary Information consists of materials that are not available to the public and which, if disclosed freely, would subject the party or its clients to risk of competitive disadvantage or other business injury. The proposed protective order gives all parties the right to challenge the confidential or proprietary nature of the designated Proprietary Information.

The Commission’s regulation at 52 Pa.Code §5.365 requires that a protective order apply the least restrictive means of limitation that will provide the necessary protections from disclosure. The proposed protective order does this. Therefore, we will grant Sunoco’s motion filed February 17, 2015for issuance of a protective order.

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED:

1. That the motion for issuance of a protective order filed February 17, 2015by Sunoco Pipeline, L.P.is granted.

2. The proposed protective order attached to the motion filed February 17, 2015 is approved, adopted and incorporated into this order

source

With our sincerest apologies to the scriptwriters of the Fight Club


Brent Crude Prices

For our readers following oil prices:

Oil price per barrel, 2014 to the end of Feb 2015
Click to enlarge

February 2015
Click to enlarge

Southern California refinery explosion


Remains of Exxon refinery in Torrance California

Excerpt:

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) — An explosion devastated a section of a refinery on Wednesday morning, shaking nearby homes, raining down ash and injuring four people. Experts said the disruption to production would likely drive up gas prices in California. The blast at the Exxon Mobil Corp. facility occurred in a recently installed processing facility, Fire Department spokesman Steve Deuel said. The four-story structure was shattered, and four contractors suffered minor injuries.

source

Get ready for $10 oil

Excerpt:

Like all cartels, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is designed to ensure stable and above-market crude prices. But those high prices encourage cheating, as cartel members exceed their quotas. For the cartel to function, its leader -- in this case, Saudi Arabia -- must accommodate the cheaters by cutting its own output to keep prices from falling. But the Saudis have seen their past cutbacks result in market-share losses.

With new discoveries, stability in parts of the Middle East and increasing drilling efficiency, global oil output will no doubt rise in the next several years, adding to pressure on prices. U.S. crude oil production is forecast to rise by 300,000 barrels a day during the next year from 9.1 million now. Sure, the drilling rig count is falling, but it’s the inefficient rigs that are being idled, not the horizontal rigs that are the backbone of the fracking industry. Consider also Iraq’s recent deal with the Kurds, meaning that another 550,000 barrels a day will enter the market.

source

Cheap oil hurting oil industry

Enjoy a little schadenfreude pleasure:

"Now that oil prices have fallen below $46, any euphoria over cheaper energy will be tempered by losses that are starting to show up in investment funds, retirement accounts and bank balance sheets. The bear market has wiped out a total of $393 billion since June -- $353 billion from the shares of 76 companies in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Exploration & Production index, and almost $40 billion from high-yield energy bonds, issued by many shale drillers, according to a Bloomberg index.

The three U.S. banks are also among the lenders to other struggling drillers. The loans are backed by oil reserves that are worth less at today’s prices than they were when banks last performed scheduled revaluations of the collateral."

source


Events of January 2015

It looks like easement negotiations are underway in western Pennsylvania.

Sunoco's Jeff Shields
Excerpt:

"Musselman is willing to sell the quarter-acre easement if compensated for the inconvenience, property devaluation and potential risks the pipeline poses. But what Sunoco calls a fair market offer, Musselman calls "kind of embarrassing."

...

Sunoco Communications Manager Jeff Shields wouldn't confirm the figure but previously said the company offers fair market value* and wants happy landowners."

None of us asked for this. As Pericles said: "Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you". What we can learn from their experience: expect low ball offers from Sunoco representatives. And don't expect verbal promises to appear in the printed document. All that matters is what's in print, and enforced.

* Looks like Mr. Shields may have discovered a cure for insomnia. Otherwise, how *does* he sleep at night?

Oil

Oil prices may have leveled off at $46 per barrel. Where it goes from here is speculation, but unrest is already forming in the oil industry:

Union leaders called strikes on Sunday at nine U.S. refineries in a bid to pressure oil companies to agree to a new national contract covering workers at 63 plants.

The walkouts, the first held in support of a nationwide pact since 1980, target plants that together account for more than 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity. The discord comes as plunging crude prices force oil companies to slash spending.

...

The USW is seeking annual pay raises double the size of those in the last agreement. It also wants work that has been given in the past to non-union contractors to start going to USW members, a tighter policy to prevent workplace fatigue, and reductions in members' out-of-pocket payments for healthcare.

If the present price levels remain unchanged or continue to drop, expect to to see early signs of corporate death: layoffs, bankruptcies and smaller oil firms bought out by larger companies until only a few large firms remain ("restructuring", in Wall Street parlance).

Area gasoline and oil prices over the past few weeks:

A few weeks ago

About a week ago

Yesterday


Oil price per barrel, January 2015
Click to enlarge

Oil price per barrel, October 2014 - January 2015
Click to enlarge

The benefit to our economy is already showing.

PUC filings

Certificate of service to Interrogatories from West Goshen to Sunoco on Jan 16th - details. As we understand it, this means West Goshen's lawyers are making inquiries to Sunoco that Sunoco can't ignore.

Legislative activity

H.R. 351 LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act (PDF)

Key point: no more disingenuous statements about where the LNG is destined.

 

SEC. 3. PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF EXPORT DESTINATIONS.

Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act (15 U.S.C. 717b) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(g) PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF LNG EXPORT DESTINATIONS —As a condition for approval of any authorization to export LNG, the Secretary of Energy shall require the applicant to publicly disclose the specific destination or destinations of any such authorized LNG exports."

Keystone XL Pipeline Act (PDF)

Key quote:

 

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. may construct, connect, operate, and maintain the pipeline and cross-border facilities described in the application filed on May 4, 2012, by TransCanada Corporation to the Department of State.

H.R. 161 Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (PDF)

Key quote:

 

The Commission shall approve or deny an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for a prefiled project not later than 12 months after receiving a complete application that is ready to be processed, as defined by the Commission by regulation.

A new angle on motives - financial pressure on Russia?

What follows is an environmental article, but might provide a partial explanation: Not only profit, but heavy financial pressure on Russia for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

 

With another LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminal approved by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Coos Bay, Ore., to non-Free Trade Agreement countries on March 24 (the seventh so far, with two dozen still pending), the heat is on to export U.S. fracked oil and gas to the global market.

So, why wasn’t the LNG climate trump card discussed in a loud and clear way? Well, just consider the source: ten of the witnesses had ties in one way or another to the oil and gas industry.

...

The last thing Putin and his cronies wants (sic) is competition from the United States of America in the energy race,” Landrieu declared in her opening statement. “Tyrants and dictators throughout history have had many reasons to fear revolutions, and this U.S. energy revolution is one they should all keep their eyes on!”

source


— Shots fired —

Catch up on the latest documents at the PUC.

Document Name
Date 
Answer to Amended Petitions - Delaware Riverkeeper Network  11/20/2014
P-2014-2411941 et al Initial Prehearing Conference Notice.docx  12/1/2014
P-2014-2411941 et al Prehearing Order.docx  12/1/2014
P-2014-2411941 et al Intervention Order.docx  12/1/2014
Answer to Amended Petitions - Clean Air Council  12/2/2014
Ltr Req Ext of Time to Respond to Mot to Dismiss - West Goshen Township 12/15/2014
Answer to Preliminary Objection of Sunoco Pipeline-W Goshen Twp 12/29/2014

Source

Unbridled greed in business

Flashback to 1913: 73 innocent people, children killed to discourage strike

On Christmas Eve, 1913, 73 people died in a stampede after a false cry of Fire! at a children's Christmas party in northern Michigan. ... Two questions always arise: How could such a thing happen and why has this story not been more widely told in the past 101 years?

a man entered the building, climbed the stairs and stepped into the main room. He yelled "Fire!" twice, at the top of his lungs twice, in English. He then turned and as panic set in behind him, he ran away. There was no fire but there was an instant panic. Masses swarmed toward the exit at the top of the stairs, pushing and shoving to escape the onrush of people from the hall. Someone tripped and fell on the stairs and more people pushed from behind. More people fell. Soon, there was a pile on the stairs of a hundred or more people, mostly children.

...

The commotion inside the building attracted attention on the street and someone called the volunteer fire department. They arrived quickly and soon realized it was not a fire they were dealing with, but a stampede and crush on the stairway. They entered the building through a fire escape and began trying to rescue those on the stairs. Some they could save. 73 could not be saved.

The number of deaths overwhelmed the community. The victims were taken to a temporary morgue and soon plans needed to be made for a massive number of burials. Undertakers ran out of caskets and had to appeal to nearby communities for more, particularly children's caskets.

The union president sent a telegram to the governor, asking for an official investigation into the tragedy. When word got out that he had done that, a group of men - probably working with the sheriff - beat, shot and kidnapped him.

...

And a grand jury – also hand-picked by mine management – refused to indict anyone for the Italian Hall (although, comically, they indicted the president of the union for his union activities while refusing to indict them men who shot and kidnapped him.)

While our issue doesn't involve a strike, it's still in impediment to Sunoco's business operation. We don't expect violence from Sunoco, but their past actions demonstrate they aren't beneath intimidation and deceit.

The laws have changed a great deal in the past 100 years, however there are some good object lessons from this:

  • Privacy is protection.
  • Laws protect everyone, good laws provide good protection...when they're enforced. This is one of many reasons to stay involved in local government business, or at least familiar with current events.
  • 1 - http://oppositelock.jalopnik.com/remember-italian-hall-where-73-died-on-christmas-eve-1674600923

    Oil prices continue to plummet

    Layoffs underway at Shell, BP, others

    News excerpts from around the nation:

    ConocoPhillips (COP) became the first major U.S. oil company on Monday to reveal that it is slashing spending for 2015. There are expectations that more energy companies will follow.1

    Oil driller Transocean (RIG) plummeted 10%. So did oil services giants Schlumberger (SLB) and Halliburton (HAL). Energy prices have been on a slip and slide ride for the past few months due to concerns about sluggish demand out of Europe and an economic slowdown in China. But the supply part of the equation is also a bit out of whack lately. The United States has boosted its output of oil thanks to the shale gas boom in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and other states. ...Still, investors and consumers need to be careful about what they wish for. If energy prices keep falling, that could hurt the U.S. economy if it leads to an end of the shale bonanza.

    ...Other oil companies to follow: Good, the Morningstar analyst, expects Chevron (CVX), ExxonMobil (XOM) and other major U.S. oil producers to announce "some marginal spending cuts" in the coming months, though not as deep as Conoco.

    ...That's because Chevron and Exxon are bigger players with more financial flexibility. Last week, Exxon signaled it could survive oil as low as $40 per barrel, at least for some time.2

    The price of oil continues to drop, and that now means mass layoffs for oil workers in Bakersfield, California. The Employment Development Department showed 700 people to be laid off by Ensign Energy Services, but that bad news came very suddenly for families, even with the threat of low oil prices looming overhead for months.

    ...

    Those in the oil industry generally know what they're signing up for.3


    Click to enlarge.

    How low can you go? Unlike many OPEC nations that are continuing to sell oil at prices below what they've budgeted for, U.S. shale companies can keep making money even if oil falls further.

    According to a report by the International Energy Agency last month, most producers in North Dakota's Bakken formation, an area that's been a key contributor to the shale revolution, can remain profitable even if oil falls to $42 per barrel (it's currently at $68).

    "U.S. shale producers are surprising resilient. They will drill as long as they have cash flow from their operations," said Per Magnus Nysveen of Rystad Energy. 4

    1 - http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/28/investing/oil-stocks-plunge-opec/?iid=EL
    2 - http://money.cnn.com/2014/12/08/investing/shale-oil-spending-america-opec/?iid=EL
    3 - http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/business/Hundreds-with-oil-company-get-layoff-notices-287260371.html
    4 - http://money.cnn.com/2014/12/02/investing/oil-fight-opec-us-shale-boom/index.html?iid=EL


    Oil prices continue to plummet Unbridled greed in business Shots fired
    Events of January 2015 Cheap oil hurting oil industry Get ready for $10 oil
    Southern California refinery explosion Brent Crude Prices Sunoco's Protection Order Request Granted
    Sunoco withdraws 22 petitions, West Goshen Isn't One of Them. Latest filing: Sunoco's Petition for Extension of Time Contractor Working at Sunoco Logistics Dies in Accident
    West Goshen Gives Pipeline Update Today's Fortune Cookie Quote PROPOSED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
    Settlement Under Consideration Settlement Proposal Discussed Gas-line blast at California range injures 11
    West Goshen Approves Settlement with Sunoco Sunoco to Host Public Open House for Mariner 2 PECO to Close Boot Road
    Oil Prices Sunoco Logistics plans additional pipeline...to Marcus Hook Sunoco's Open House - Field Report
    Road Construction at Boot Rd. & Windsor Dr Overheard: Pipeline Details A Reader Responds
    Congratulations to Chris Pielli, our newest Supervisor Thanksgiving Misplaced Symbolism
    Low Oil Prices — Karma or Our New Friend? Judge Rules Sunoco Has Eminent Domain... Sunoco Premature in Claiming it Has Public Utility...
    Did Sunoco quietly tunnel underneath WG? Financial Woes in the Petroleum Industry The oil price, Iran and Saudi's economy
    A new job pipeline for steelworkers Mariner East Wins Another...Court Battle Pipeline planning fuels deals, disputes

    “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” — Grace Hopper

    Questions or comments about this web page? Email us!

    Views
    hit counter website
    Unique visitors
    www.hitwebcounter.com