NEW YORK, May 1 (Reuters) - A judge overseeing negotiations between several energy companies and Colonial Pipeline Co over the fee structure to ship products on the largest fuel pipeline in the United States recommended this week the termination of the settlement proceeding.
Settlement Judge David Coffman reached the decision after complainants, including Chevron Products Co, and Valero Marketing and Supply Co, did not believe further settlement proceedings would "serve any constructive purpose," according to a filing issued Tuesday.
As a result, trial-type evidentiary hearings are expected to come next, according to U.S. regulators. That could include public hearings about Colonial's market share and its rates.
In November 2017, Chevron, Valero and Epsilon Trading LLC, the trading arm of Delta Air Lines Inc, filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that said rates charged by Colonial "greatly exceed just and reasonable levels."
Colonial has said the complaint has no merit.
Since then, several more companies complained to FERC about Colonial's rates, and FERC designated Coffman in September to explore the possibility of a settlement between the parties.
Colonial connects U.S. Gulf Coast refineries with markets across the southern and eastern United States through more than 5,500 miles (8,850 km) of its pipeline system, delivering gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Bernadette Baum)