Buckeye Partners, L.P. announced it is actively undertaking the steps necessary to provide bi-directional service along the Altoona to Pittsburgh section of the refined fuels pipeline system operated by its operating subsidiary, Laurel Pipe Line Company, L.P.
This service, which Buckeye believes will not materially impact its original project costs or timeline, will leave all of Laurel’s existing Public Utility Commission (PUC) tariffs in place while establishing new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission tariffs from Midwest origins to Altoona, PA destinations.
Buckeye’s decision comes in light of the recent recommended decision by the PUC’s Administrative Law Judge that the PUC reject Laurel’s application to abandon east-to-west transportation and reverse the direction of service in that section of the Laurel pipeline from west to east.
“Buckeye fully respects and remains committed to the ongoing PUC process,” said Robert A. Malecky, Buckeye’s President, Domestic Pipelines & Terminals. “We see the addition of eastbound service to the current westbound capability as providing an operational solution for all our customers. This approach provides shippers and suppliers with the choice to supply from either the west or east, while still increasing Pennsylvania consumers’ access to more affordable, lower cost North American-manufactured fuels, and we think it does so in a way that fully addresses the points raised in the recent PUC proceedings.”
The Laurel Pipeline reversal was a hot topic at last year’s Eastern Energy Expo, held in Hershey, PA. There, refiners expressed concerns about being pushed out of the marketplace, while retailers noted that wholesale and consumer prices could increase as a result (see “Toms on Trump,” Oil & Energy Volume 19/Issue 6, July 2017).
In response to Buckeye’s recent announcement, the Deny Buckeye Coalition (which includes Giant Eagle, Get Go, Gulf, Guttman Energy, Monroe Energy, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, and Sheetz) issued the following statement:
“We don’t have details, but we’re certainly suspicious of this decision. 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. Truly embracing bi-directional flow that meets the needs of Buckeye’s current customers — and being open to competition — are contrary to their position for the past 12-18 months. We look forward to hearing more about their plans before taking an official position.”