Firms to move ethane from Marcellus shale to Gulf Coast

Christopher E. Smith
OGJ Pipeline Editor

HOUSTON, June 4 -- MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC—a partnership of MarkWest Energy Partners LP and Energy & Minerals Group—and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP announced June 1 a combined pipeline and marine project to move ethane produced in the Marcellus shale to the US Gulf Coast.

MarkWest Liberty says the Mariner Project will be able to ship 50,000 b/d of ethane to the Gulf Coast as soon as second-quarter 2012 and could be scaled to transport higher volumes to support additional ethane production in the Marcellus region.

Marcellus producers including Range Resources Corp. and Chesapeake Energy Corp. support the project, according to MarkWest Liberty.

The Mariner Project includes modifications to MarkWest Liberty’s processing facilities to recover sufficient ethane to allow the residue gas to meet interstate gas pipeline specifications and installing additional facilities at its Houston, Pa., processing and fractionation complex to separate ethane for delivery. MarkWest Liberty will also build a 45-mile pipeline from the Houston complex to an interconnection with an existing Sunoco Logistics pipeline at Delmont, Pa.

MarkWest Liberty will ship the ethane to an existing Delaware River marine port where Sunoco Logistics will build refrigerated ethane storage facilities from which vessels would load the ethane for shipment to the Gulf Coast. The existing Sunoco Logistics pipeline also crosses many large pipelines transporting gas into the US Northeast, providing multiple ethane blending options, according to MarkWest Liberty.

MarkWest Liberty says the heavier NGLs will remain in the northeast US.

Both Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP and Enbridge Inc. have announced plans to move Marcellus NGLs westward to either Sarnia, Ont., Chicago, or both (OGJ Online, Apr. 21, 2010).

Other projects for moving NGLs out of the Marcellus region include Buckeye Partners LP and Nova Chemicals Corp.’s Union Pipeline Project to supply Nova’s olefins cracker near Sarnia, and a proposal by Cumberland Plateau Pipeline Co. LLC to build a 1,050-mile ethane pipeline from the Marcellus shale to near Baton Rouge, La (OGJ Online, Mar. 11, 2010).

Contact Christopher E. Smith at chriss@ogjonline.com.

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