Poor Prospects for Moving Marcellus/Utica Ethane to Gulf Coast

According to the energy experts at RBN Energy, ethane production in the Marcellus/Utica region will go from 470,000 barrels per day now to 800,000 barrels per day by 2022–a 70% increase. Ethane, which is sometimes up to 10% of the hydrocarbons coming out of Marcellus/Utica wells (from wet gas and oil wells), can be an important revenue stream. However, you have to have someplace to sell it. Right now, many Marcellus/Utica producers have to mix in the ethane with the methane stream in order to get rid of it. In other words, it costs them money. It’s a waste product. However, when the Shell cracker plant in Beaver County, PA and (possibly) the PTT Global cracker plant in Belmont County, OH go online, important new markets will open up. But even two huge crackers won’t be able to buy all of the available ethane. There are a slew of new cracker plants coming online in the Gulf Coast over the next five years that could use Marcellus/Utica ethane. But will they? The problem, as always, is pipelines. According to an analysis by RBN, the prospects for moving more of our ethane to the Gulf Coast do not look good…

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