Sunoco swaps out pipeline contractor

There has been a change in companies working to construct the large-scale Mariner East 2 pipeline in several local counties, a Sunoco official confirmed late last week.

Sunoco Pipeline LP officials have recently replaced former general contractor Union Pipeline with Michels Corp., Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said in a voicemail.

The change affects a local “construction spread,” with Michels taking over work in Blair, Huntingdon, Juniata and Perry counties, Shields said.

Sunoco Pipeline LP — a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners — is working to build a 300-plus-mile pipeline, the Mariner East 2, which, locally, will pass through Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon counties. When completed, the pipeline will carry natural gas liquids from beyond Pennsylvania’s western border to a processing facility in Delaware County’s Marcus Hook area.

In his voicemail message, Shields did not indicate when the change in contractors took place, saying only that work will continue as planned.

“We don’t expect (the change) to affect our schedule, period” Shields said.

A Blair County resident, whose property is affected by pipeline construction, called into the Mirror last week to report that he had noticed Union vehicles being removed from a local construction site.

Huntingdon County’s Daily News later reported that a pipeline worker said Union “employees were discharged from the site early Wednesday morning.”

Shields also did not explain why the former contractor was replaced.

The change coincides with a Sunoco request to change the project timeline near the Seven Points Recreation Area of Raystown Lake.

On Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers — which controls the lake and its surrounding land — announced Sunoco had asked that an existing environmental assessment be amended to allow work in Raystown area during a previously agreed-upon hiatus.

In April, Corps Public Affairs Specialist Cynthia Mitchell said construction near the lake would be halted in mid-May until late summer or early fall because the lake is a popular tourist destination during the summer months, and Army Corps of Engineers officials worried construction could disturb visitors.

On Thursday, Mitchell said Sunoco is now asking to work during those summer months due to a setback in the pipeline project’s timeline.

“(Sunoco) fell behind schedule is what I’ve have been told,” Mitchell said.

It is unclear if that change in timeline factored into the change in contractors.

“We are eager to get back to work on this so we can get it finished and restored during the growing season,” Shields said of Raystown work.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.