A Houston-based pipeline operator said Friday it is taking steps to move refined fuels in two directions on a portion of its Pennsylvania pipeline while it asks state regulators to allow it to reverse the flow from west to east.
Buckeye Partners said it wants to make service bi-directional along the Altoona-to-Pittsburgh section of the 350-mile Laurel pipeline. Buckeye has sought permission to reverse the flow on that section to bring fuels from Midwest refiners to customers farther east in Pennsylvania.
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Philadelphia-area refiners and in-state distributors warn that reversing the flow will mean higher prices and less competition that benefits Buckeye and out-of-state refiners, but hurts in-state consumers. A coalition called Deny Buckeye said Friday that they did not have details on Buckeye's new plan, but said it appears to circumvent the utility commission process and is contrary to Buckeye's position for the past 12 to 18 months.
Last month, an administrative law judge recommended the five-member Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission reject Buckeye's application to reverse the flow. The commission hasn't said when it will vote.