FERC Invokes Emergency Power to Force Propane Shipments on TEPPCO

first time everLast Friday, for the first time ever, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency charged with approving transmission pipelines for oil and gas across the country, invoked its its emergency authority under the Interstate Commerce Act and directed Enterprise Products Partners to prioritize propane shipments on one of its pipelines that runs from the Gulf Coast to the northeast and Midwest (see map below). The Enterprise TEPPCO (TE Products Pipelines Company) pipeline handles various refined products, including gasoline and natural gas liquids like propane. The order directs Enterprise to prioritize propane shipments beginning yesterday or today and continuing for a week. Last Friday Enterprise told shippers it would inject 150,000 barrels of propane into its pipeline on yesterday (Monday) and 350,000 barrels on Thursday. Enterprise later said they are willing to continue prioritized propane shipments until Feb. 21.

All of this is in response to a developing crisis. More than 20 states have declared a state of emergency due to propane shortages. In some Midwestern states, residents and farms are in danger of running out of propane. Does that justify the federal government stepping in? Did FERC also direct Enterprise to reverse the flow of the newly minted ATEX ethane pipeline that runs from the northeast to the Gulf Coast so it too can carry propane?…

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