CONSOL to Begin Ethane Shipments Next Year–to Europe?!

CONSOL Energy is a big, important driller in the Marcellus and Utica Shale. Most of their operations are in “wet gas” areas–those locations that produce a lot of natural gas liquids (NGLs), like ethane, along with “dry gas” or methane. Although CONSOL has a lot of acreage in southwestern PA and in WV and eastern OH, the ethane they produce will not be going to a proposed new ethane cracker plant being built by Odebrecht in Parkersburg, WV. Instead, CONSOL is going to send their ethane by pipeline to an export facility in Philadelphia, and from there, on to Europe for processing and use in European petrochemical factories.

Why in the world ship ethane all the way to Europe for processing instead of selling it in your own back yard? Timing. CONSOL doesn’t want to wait the 4-5 years for an ethane cracker to be built (if it’s built at all). They’ve adopted a “bird in hand” strategy. They’d rather start shipping it next year, when Sunoco Logstics’ Mariner East pipeline is up and running, rather than wait. And so CONSOL, according to their announcement below, has locked in a deal with Ineos Europe AG. But don’t despair, CONSOL also previously signed an agreement with Shell to provide its cracker plant in Beaver County, PA with ethane–when and if that plant gets built…

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