Oct 22 (Reuters) - U.S. energy company Energy Transfer LP plans to start service on its Sunoco Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline in Pennsylvania during the fourth quarter of 2018, an analyst following the company said on Monday:
* Energy Transfer told analysts at Height Capital Markets in Washington, DC, that the pipeline "will be in service as soon as it is mechanically complete, which is expected to be in the next few weeks."
* Officials at Energy Transfer were not immediately available for comment.
* That fits with the timing the company has told several customers of the pipeline, including U.S. energy producer Range Resources Corp and U.S. ship owner Dorian LPG Ltd , which owns very large gas carriers (VLGCs).
* When Energy Transfer's Sunoco subsidiary started building the $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 in February 2017, the company expected to finish the project by the third quarter of 2017.
* Mariner East 2, however, has been slowed by numerous work stop orders in Pennsylvania due primarily to drilling fluid spills during horizontal drills under obstacles like rivers and highways.
* The Mariner East project transports liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in western Pennsylvania to customers in the state and elsewhere, including international exports from ETP's Marcus Hook complex near Philadelphia.
* Mariner East 1 started service in the 1930s transporting refined products from the Philadelphia area to western Pennsylvania. It was repurposed and expanded to transport propane in 2014 and ethane in 2016 from western Pennsylvania to customers in the eastern part of the state.
* Mariner East 2 will boost capacity of the Mariner East project from 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 345,000 bpd and open the pipeline to suppliers in Ohio and West Virginia. Mariner East 2X, which Energy Transfer has said is expected to enter service in mid-2019, will add another 250,000 bpd.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by James Dalgleish