The Laurel Pipeline, which has operated since 1957, runs east-to-west across the state of Pennsylvania, delivering gasoline, diesel and heating fuels from the Philadelphia refineries to central and western Pennsylvania. Laurel Pipe Line Co., a subsidiary of Buckeye Partners LP based in Houston, TX, owns and operates the pipeline. Over the past few years, Laurel Pipe Line Co has been petitioning to change the direction of the pipeline to run west-to-east. Local gasoline retailers such as GetGo and Sheetz have been fighting against Laurel Pipe Line Co. on the reversal since this first began last June. The local retailers fear that the pipeline reversal will reduce competition, eliminate jobs in the area and drive up pump prices. The retailers have won the initial fight as the Public Utility Commission (PUC) decided to block Laurel Pipe Line Co. from a full reversal.
Since then, Laurel Pipe Line Co. has proposed a “bi-directional” pipeline where they would switch the direction of the line at will. The coalition is still against this new proposal and released a statement that reads, “Buckeye has not shown that its bi-directional proposal is workable in practice and it has not committed to ensuring that Western Pennsylvania businesses and consumers will continue to have access to reliable, often cheaper fuel from the East Coast.” The coalition believes that the bi-directional approach would be just as harmful to the Western Pennsylvania market as the original reversal would have been.
As we get closer to the final decision, there will be more information available to the public. Discussions are intensifying and it seems this struggle could be nearing a verdict.