Sunoco asks U.S. energy regulator to affirm oil pipeline rates

NEW YORK Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:46pm EDT

NEW YORK Oct 28 (Reuters) - Sunoco Pipeline LP has petitioned U.S. federal energy regulators to approve its fee structure and affirm the rates it will charge to ship oil on a crude pipeline that will help ship Texas shale oil to the Gulf Coast and Midwest, it said in a filing on Monday.

The Granite Wash Project will bring crude from the Granite Wash shale basin in northeastern Texas and western Oklahoma to Ringgold, Texas. There, it will meet with an existing Sunoco line able to ship the crude to Gulf Coast and Midwest markets.

Sunoco is seeking the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) approval to allow up to 90 percent of the available capacity on the pipeline to be left open to give committed shippers priority for a fee when pipeline capacity is maxed out.

So-called "committed" shippers are those who inked contracts with Sunoco in an open season, a period of weeks or months where a pipeline operator can gauge interest for use of the line.

"In other words, at any time when the normal operating capacity of the line from the project is oversubscribed, a committed shipper that elects to pay the priority service rate would be allowed to move its committed volumes without pro rationing," the company said in the filing.

The remaining capacity would be allocated among those uncommitted shippers seeking access to the line, it added.

In the filing, Sunoco also requested that the FERC affirm that the rates already decided on in an open season held between July and September "will not be subject to revision other than by agreement of the parties."

The project, with an expected capacity of 70,000 barrels per day, is expected to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2014. It is one in a mass of new infrastructure coming online in Texas to bring newfound crude to markets.

Sunoco did not immediately return calls seeking further comment.