Energy Transfer Ordered To Reroute Mariner Pipeline After Major Fluid Spill
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) has ordered Energy Transfer’s (ET) Sunoco Pipeline to reroute its planned Mariner East II Pipeline.
It also wants the company to further assess, investigate, and restore resources impacted by Mariner East II pipeline installation activities in Upper Uwchlan Township, Chester County.
The Mariner East pipeline system provides infrastructure to transport natural gas liquids (NGLs) like propane, ethane and butane from the Marcellus and Utica Shale fields to markets in Pennsylvania and beyond.
In August 2020, Sunoco spilled over 8,000 gallons of drilling fluid, and industrial waste, and created a 15-foot wide by 8-foot deep subsidence, adversely impacting wetlands, tributaries, and a lake, in Marsh Creek State. The drilling fluid spill caused the park to close off 33 acres of the lake from recreational uses and access.
“These incidents are yet another instance where Sunoco has blatantly disregarded the citizens and resources of Chester County with careless actions… We will not stand for more of the same. An alternate route must be used. The department is holding Sunoco responsible for its unlawful actions and demanding a proper cleanup,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
A pipeline reroute in the Marsh Creek area was previously evaluated by Sunoco and found to be technically feasible. The order requires Sunoco to use this other route, and to carry out additional corrective actions including impact assessments, restoration and remediation.
Back in August Sunoco was ordered to pay more than $350,000 in penalties for violations related to the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in eight Pennsylvania counties.
Shares in ET have plunged over 50% year-to-date, and the Street is split between hold and buy ratings, giving it a Moderate Buy consensus. Meanwhile the average analyst price target of $9.70 indicates 66% upside potential lies ahead.
Speaking for the bulls, RBC Capital’s Elvira Scotto has a buy rating on the stock and $10 price target. “We believe ET is well-positioned to generate meaningful cash flow growth as large-scale growth projects come online over the next few years” she says.
Moreover, the analyst expects growth capex to slow in the coming years, which should allow ET to reduce leverage and return more cash to unit- holders via distribution increases and/or unit repurchase. (See ET stock analysis on TipRanks)