What is an Additional Line Right?

There has been a significant amount of discussion lately about additional line rights, especially in conjunction with Sunoco's Mariner East II Project. A question many people are asking is "what is an additional line right" and what does it mean to me.

An "additional line right" is a right which has been granted to a pipeline company, such as Sunoco, to place additional pipelines in an easement which was previously granted to the pipeline company by a property owner. For example, a pipeline company may have previously secured an easement across a particular piece of property. Some of those easement agreements permitted the pipeline company to come back at a future time and install additional pipelines within that existing easement. That right to install additional pipelines is what is being referred to as an additional line right.

Whether or not a pipeline company has an additional line right and the terms under which that right may exist are governed by the prior easement and/or right of way agreement. As it pertains to Sunoco and its alleged additional line rights, whether Sunoco has an additional line right and, if so, the applicable terms vary throughout the various counties and properties affected by the Mariner East II Pipeline Project. For example, some of the prior easements which provide for additional line rights require that Sunoco pay an amount of money for any future pipelines, which is similar to the amount which was paid for the initial pipeline, subject to inflation. There are other additional line rights, however, which do not require or provide for the payment of any additional money for the installation of additional pipelines unless there is damage to the surface of the property.

Additional line rights can have a significant impact on a property owner's ability to challenge Sunoco's or another pipeline company's right to install an additional pipeline on their property as well as the amount of compensation which may be appropriate and/or available for the installation of same. At times, these additional line rights can be subject to challenge but the degree of challenge depends upon the language in the controlling documents. If you have a property which is or may be subject to an additional line right, we can provide assistance with interpreting that document and evaluating the impact of those additional line rights on your ability to challenge and/or seek compensation for the installation of any future pipelines on your property.

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