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Study predicts $4.2 billion benefit from Mariner East pipeline

| Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, 10:33 a.m.
Affected Burrell Township farm owner Roy Campbell discusses the proposed Sunoco Logistics pipeline with his wife, Lisa, during a meeting Monday at the Chestnut Ridge Golf Resort and Conference Center east of Blairsville.
Bruce Siskawicz | Trib Total Media
Affected Burrell Township farm owner Roy Campbell discusses the proposed Sunoco Logistics pipeline with his wife, Lisa, during a meeting Monday at the Chestnut Ridge Golf Resort and Conference Center east of Blairsville.

Sunoco Logistics' expansion of its pipeline system moving propane, butane and other liquids from shale wells to the East Coast will pump $4.2 billion into the state's economy and support 30,000 jobs during construction, a company commissioned study found.

About half those jobs are linked directly to construction of the $3 billion, 350-mile Mariner East 2, a 16-inch pipeline Sunoco Logistics plans to build nearly paralleling its existing 8-inch Mariner East 1, according to the impact study released Thursday by Philadelphia-based Econsult Solutions. The pipeline and converted refinery at Sunoco Logistics' Marcus Hook terminal outside Philadelphia will employ 300 to 400 workers on a more permanent basis once construction wraps up in 2017, the report said.

“You just don't see companies investing $3 billion on capital projects in Pennsylvania every day,” said Stephen P. Mullin, president and principal at Econsult.

Most of the economic impacts will be felt in the Philadelphia region in the conversion of the terminal, though Marcellus and Utica shale gas producers clustered in Western Pennsylvania are looking forward to moving more lucrative liquids from their wells to the terminal. Low natural gas and oil prices have prompted companies to slow their drilling as they look for new demand sources and pipelines.

Construction on Mariner East 2 includes lines linking Ohio, West Virginia and Washington County facilities to the mainline in Delmont.

“This will mean more growth here, in terms of well pads, compressors, all the related work. We see it as a positive, long-term benefit,” said Jim Kunz, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66, which has 7,000 members in 33 counties.

Last year, more than 20 percent of the local's work was connected to the natural gas industry, Kunz said.

Econsult's report estimated about half of the pipeline's engineering will be done by Pennsylvania firms and 25 percent of its steel will come from in-state plants. Construction will generate an estimated $62 million in taxes to the state from workers directly employed by its projects and from related businesses, the report found.

The project includes at least three propane distribution points along the pipeline before it reaches Marcus Hook. The impact study said Mariner East could help stabilize volatile propane prices.

Sunoco Logistics is seeking state and federal permits for the pipeline and holding community meetings along the route, where some groups have started raising opposition. The state Public Utility Commission ruled the company and pipeline qualify as a public utility with eminent domain power.

David Conti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5802 or dconti@tribweb.com.

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