Sunoco Pipeline to Pay Over $5 Million After Three Oil Spills

Sunoco Pipeline will pay more than $5.4 million to settle with the state of Louisiana and the federal government after three oil spills occurred in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

In a Thursday agreement to pay civil penalties and state enforcement costs, the company hopes to resolve the alleged violations of the Clean Water Act from the three oil spills that occurred between 2012 and 2015. Pipeline corrosion was the cause of the spills.

550 barrels of oil in Tyler County, Texas spilled in 2013. 4,500 barrels in Caddo Parish, La. In 2015, and then 40 barrels in Grant County, Okla in 2015.

The settlement includes agreements for Sunoco to perform inspections related to corrosion.


$1 Billion Jump in Costs for Mountain Valley Pipeline

Projected costs of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have jumped from $3.7 billion to $4.6 billion.

The nearly 25 percent hike in costs was announced in a revised estimate this week.

Half of the cost increase was attributed to construction delays in August after FERC ordered that work be stopped citing two key permits that were invalidated by a federal appeals court.

The schedule changes caused by the order created “changes that forced activities to be conducted out-of-sequence – these changes, in turn, required both crews and inspectors to make adjustments in order to return to areas that had to be bypassed,” Mountain Valley spokeswoman Natalie Cox wrote in an email.

FERC has allowed work to resume on most of the pipeline’s 303- mile route through West and Southwest Virginia.

Additional expenses were attributed to “extraordinary rainfall events that continued through the summer, recent hurricane preparedness actions that interrupted full construction activities, and certain unanticipated construction costs overruns.”

The Pittsburgh-based company said it incurred “significant costs” due to enhance and repair erosion and sediment control measures, although state regulators have said that they have failed to prevent muddy runoff from leaving the construction site.


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U.S. Pipeline Developers Plan to Seek Exemption to Steel Tariff

Pipeline developers in the U.S. are intending to pursue exemptions to the Trump Administration's proposed 25 percent tariff on imported steel as worry looms over the impact that the cost increase would have on a number of pipeline projects.

Energy companies have argued against the tariff that was declared last week, saying the U.S. does not provide key metal grades or diameters needed for some pipeline projects. They also argue that U.S. manufacturers have a longer production time than importers overseas, which would impede pipeline development.

According to a 2017 study conducted for the pipeline industry, steel imports account for 77 percent of the steel used in U.S. pipelines.

NAmerico Partners, which is planning a multibillion dollar pipeline from the Permian to the Gulf Coast, said it estimates the tariff would raise the cost of the project to its customers by two to four percent. Construction has not yet started on the project.

The U.S. Commerce Department is working to come up with a procedure for companies to apply for exemptions from the tariffs on steel and aluminum. The department has 10 days to do so.

Austin attorney Adrian McTyre said tariffs could still raise costs and slow down projects even with exemptions because of the development of a new regulatory hurdle and the many unknowns to that process right now.