This article was originally published in the Delaware County Daily Times.
BY KATHLEEN E. CAREY
MARCUS HOOK >> Sunoco Logistics announced there were 20 jobs with $80,000 annual salaries available at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex Tuesday, which will result in a total facility yearly payroll of $16 million.
“These jobs that we’re talking about today, in addition to the 2,200 construction jobs, will put us over 200 full-time permanent jobs at the facility,” said Joseph McGinn, Senior Manager, Public Affairs for Sunoco Logistics. “We believe that this, again, is just scratching the surface with Mariner East.”
Mariner East is the two-phased Sunoco Logistics project that began in December 2014 when 70,000 barrels of ethane and propane began making their way from western Pennsylvania to the Delaware County facility. By the end of the second phase, dubbed Mariner East 2, there will be 250,000 barrels a day of butane, propane and ethane being piped to Marcus Hook for local, national and international distribution.
McGinn explained these jobs ranged from entry level to higher level positions as utility operators, instrument and mechanical technicians and console supervisors, paying about $80,000 annually with benefits and anticipated overtime.
“These are what everybody talks about being good-paying jobs,” McGinn said. “One job here is about or even more than three retail level jobs.”
Local officials talked about what these positions mean for Delaware County.
“The influx of natural resources into Sunoco Logistics has created the demand for these new jobs and this energy economy,” Delaware County Councilman David White said. “This is great news for Delaware County’s economy. Every new job that we create in this industrial complex is a step forward, reaching the county’s full economic potential.”
J. Patrick Killian, the county’s Commerce Director, quantified the ripple effect from these positions.
“These are high-tech jobs,” he said. “These are the jobs of the future. There’s a lot of spin-off. There will be spin-off suppliers. It just grows incrementally.”
The economic situation was not always so bright.
“Just five years ago, we were looking at a bleak future for this waterfront,” White said. “Refineries were closing, people were losing their jobs and nearby businesses were also suffering.”
He said Sunoco Logistics’ link to the available resources of the Marcellus and Utica shales coincided with the findings of an IHS report the county funded in 2012 to determine best uses for the property after the refinery closed in December 2011.
“Just three years after that study, the recommendations had become reality,” White said. “The low cost shale gas feedstocks available to U.S. chemical industries have given the U.S. a competitive edge in markets that use natural gas … We know there is an emerging global interest in the energy marketplace and Delaware County is positioned to be a major player and a global leader. This is a huge step in revitalizing this waterfront.”
The Mariner East 2 is currently under review by the state Department of Environmental Protection, even as Sunoco Logistics is anticipating that it will be operational by the fall.
As the company moves forward with obtaining rights of way to construct the pipeline to move the natural gas liquids, some have voiced safety concerns.
Last week, Middletown approved to spend $44,500 for a quantitative risk assessment of the proposed Sunoco Logistics pipeline to be completed by Quest Consultants of Norman, Oklahoma. It is being funded by money the township received for easements for the project.
White said DEP is responsible for oversight of the pipeline, although he added that the county had been preparing for years for the pipeline with regards to emergency preparedness.
“We want it built in a safe and environmentally friendly way,” he said. “We want to make sure our residents are protected.”
Fellow County Councilman John McBlain agreed.
“We obviously want this project to move forward but our first job is to make sure that our residents are safe,” he said, comparing it to the concerns that arose when the Bakken crude trains were to begin their initial traversal through the county.
McBlain noted that emergency preparedness officials, industry representatives and emergency responders have been holding conversations over the last year to address safety concerns and now those meetings have been expanded to include impacted municipalities.
McGinn added that Sunoco has been in the pipeline business since the 1930s.
“It’s always been kind of out-of-sight, out-of-mind,” he said. “When you have a new construction project, it brings attention to it. There’s a lack of awareness and familiarity with them.”
In addition, he said municipal concerns are being addressed.
Regarding Middletown and others, McGinn said, “We’ve been in dialogue with the community and municipalities for several years at this point and we continue to work with them.”
To the claim that Sunoco is exercising pressure on officials to obtain easements and rights-of-way for the pipelines, McBlain said he had not received any concerns from residents or municipal officials about that.
“I’ve gotten no pressure from anybody,” he said.
In the meantime, county officials have high hopes going forward, McBlain spoke to what council’s intention was – and is – for the site.
“Our goal is to have more good-paying jobs in a newly invented industry involving natural gas than were here when it was processing oil,” he said. “And, we are on our way to that. We’re not there yet, but we are on our way.”
Interested applicants can apply for these positions at SunocoLogistics.com.