Sunoco Makes Marcellus Ethane-by-Truck Available at Marcus Hook, PA

The first truck enters the loading pad for the new ethane distribution rack at Sunoco Partners Marketing and Terminals’ Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Marcus Hook, Pa., on Sept. 21. The facility’s 300,000 barrel chilled ethane tank is in the background. (Photo Credit: Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.)

In March 2016 an Ineos tanker ship carrying 173,000 barrels of Marcellus ethane set sail from the Marcus Hook terminal near Philadelphia, bound for Norway (see Bon Voyage! First Ethane Export Ship Leaves Marcus Hook in Philly). Since that time, regular shipments of Marcellus ethane have traveled from Marcus Hook to various European destinations. Yesterday Sunoco Partners, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners and the operator of the Marcus Hook refinery, announced they have opened a new ethane distribution facility inside the Marcus Hook refinery complex. It is a truck loading facility–the first such facility in the U.S. to load liquid ethane onto tanker trucks for local delivery. Wait, what? You thought ethane was only used in gigantic cracker plants, used as the raw material to make ethylene (i.e. plastics)? That is the primary use of ethane–but not the only use. Ethane can also be used as a refrigerant in cryogenic refrigeration systems. And there are other uses for small quantities of ethane, including the manufacturing of electronics. Sunoco says local trucked ethane deliveries will be used for “various ethane uses, from energy research and development to cooling and other industrial applications.” Sunoco already has its first customer–Gas Innovations–a reseller that trucks NGLs like ethane and propane throughout the U.S. (and ships it around the world). Gas Innovations is excited that their “cryogenic ethane business” is now supplied domestically via Marcus Hook. Previously, Gas Innovations had to import liquefied ethane. Marcus Hook’s truck facility opens up a whole new market for smaller users of Marcellus/Utica ethane throughout the U.S….

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