Home Local News PUC rejects Texas firm’s plea to reverse flow on oil pipeline

PUC rejects Texas firm’s plea to reverse flow on oil pipeline


On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission denied a contentious proposal to reverse the flow on the Laurel Pipeline.

The Laurel Pipeline stretches between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It has an approximately 90-mile stretch between Pittsburgh and Altoona which Houston, Texas-based Buckeye Partners L.P. asked the PUC to allow the flow to be reversed, moving up to 40,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel fuel toward central Pennsylvania. The line was moving petroleum from east to west and Buckeye wanted to reverse that. Buckeye officials said a reversal would have resulted in a more competitive market and better pricing and asked the PUC in November 2016 to consider it.

Opponents claimed a reversal would have jeopardized the thousands of jobs at local refineries and those related to the refineries. In July 2017, members of the United Steelworkers Union Local 10-234 held a rally with other opponents to highlight the pitfalls of a reversal. They also traveled to Harrisburg several times to meet with elected officials and Gov. Tom Wolf to plead their case.

In Harrisburg Thursday, the PUC found the Laurel request was a partial abandonment of intrastate public utility service along that Altoona-Pittsburgh portion of that line, a matter the commissioners said they had the jurisdiction to consider. Portions outside Pennsylvania’s borders are under the domain of federal regulators.


In addition, the PUC determined that the pipeline company had failed to satisfy its burden regarding the abandonment.

In April, Buckeye announced it would take steps to add eastbound service to westbound flow – bi-directional service, even before the full PUC had issued its decision on the application. In March, Eranda Vero, an administrative law judge, had recommended that the change be denied.

Laurel Pipeline Co. also has a pending application before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In the meantime, it was not clear what occurs if Buckeye proceeds with reversing the flow in the Laurel line even with the PUC denial.

“I am not going to speculate about future actions by the commission,” Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, PUC press secretary, said.

Buckeye Partners issued its own statement on the PUC denial.

“While we are waiting to review the commission’s formal order, we respectfully disagree with the decision regarding our market-driven proposal aimed at providing Pennsylvania consumers with expanded access to more affordable fuels, but we will abide by the decision and continue to move forward with our current plans to provide bi-directional service on Laurel Pipeline,” the statement read. “Bi-directional service will enhance competition and provide shippers and suppliers with more options while still increasing access to lower-cost North American-produced fuels for Pennsylvania customers.”

The Deny Buckeye coalition, comprised of members opposed to the reversal including Trainer’s Monroe Energy, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Giant Eagle and Sheetz, were pleased by the denial and want the PUC to do more.

“We commend the PUC for this decision,” their statement read. “Had the reversal been approved, the only winners would have been Buckeye Partners and out-of-state, Midwestern refineries. Midwest refineries already have access to Pennsylvania markets, but they didn’t want competition … Buckeye’s proposal would create an unfair advantage for out-of-state, Midwestern refiners, who have historically sold these same fuels into western Pennsylvania at higher prices.”

It said that a Laurel reversal would have been tantamount to blocking Pennsylvania refineries from serving state residents and would have eliminated Delaware Valley refineries to provide transportation fuels and heating oil to customers in western Pennnsylvania.

“In doing so,” the statement read, “fuel prices would have skyrocketed and thousands of Pennsylvania jobs would have been in jeopardy.”

Deny Buckeye continued that they hoped the PUC would deny Buckeye’s request to shut down a portion of the pipeline for two weeks in August to deploy its bi-directional plan.

“Buckeye never obtained PUC review,” the opponents said. “After over a year of telling the PUC, legislators, media and the public that a reversal is best for Pennsylvania, Buckeye is now trying to take unilateral action that appears to be circumventing the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission process.”

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here