Colonial seeks time, clarity from FERC

OREANDA-NEWS. October 03, 2016. A sweeping Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) review proposed of Colonial Pipeline's policies earlier this month could violate the company's due process and the private agreements with its customers, the pipeline operator warned today.

Colonial asked the agency for more time and more details to comply with a 13 September FERC instruction to produce four years of documents as the commission considers whether the company's practices comply with its regulations and the Interstate Commerce Act (ICA).

The operator of the 5,500-mile (8,851km) pipeline system connecting US Gulf coast refiners to the New York Harbor market said it committed all of its resources to a 9 September pipeline break near Birmingham, Alabama, that disrupted fuel supplies throughout the southeast. The scope of FERC's request means it can not be met by the commission's 11 October deadline, the company said.

Colonial says it also has a right to a more specific sense of the issues the agency planned to investigate, as well as protections for confidential material that would be swept up in FERC's requested documents.

"The commission's stated intent to expand the scope of this docket only heightens the need for appropriate due process protections," the company wrote in its response.

FERC's plans to investigate follow two years of debate and rejected tariffs governing access to the massive pipeline system. Major Colonial lines have operated at full capacity for roughly four years.

The lack of cost-competitive transportation over the same ground has raised the stakes for access to the pipeline system. FERC in July rejected a proposal that Colonial said would simplify access for hopeful shippers while easing the concerns of its legacy customers. FERC considered the proposal too deferential toward historic customers.

The investigation details were filed in a dispute separate from that tariff decision. Shippers Tricon and Rockbriar last May challenged an undocumented Colonial policy that slowed the ability of companies to acquire and sell rights to ship across its system.