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Ethane exports to increase exponentially as fleet size increases
HOUSTON, February 22, 2017 (PCW) -- US ethane exports should increase substantially by year’s end as five more ethane-capable vessels increase the current fleet size by 36% and ship capacity gets upped by nearly 22%.
Currently, there are 11 vessels that can transport ethane and were built primarily for moving the lightest NGL purity product. Of those ships, the Navigator Aurora has yet to actually ship ethane because its charterer, Austrian chemical firm Borealis, has delayed loadings until 3Q due to a supply issue from US producer Antero Resouces.
Of the vessels on the water, Reliance’s four ships --- Ethane Crystal, Ethane Emerald, Ethane Opal and Ethane Pearl – are the largest with the ability to transport 800,000 bbls of standard ethane each. These will supply the company’s new 3.3 billion lbs/yr ethane cracker at Jamnagar, India.
Next is Sabic’s Gaschem Beluga, which can transport about 360,000 bbls, and will be primarily used to supply its cracker at Teesside, England. Borealis’ Navigator Aurora has a capacity of about 330,000 bbls and will ship supplies to its facilities in Stenungsund, Sweden. Finally, Ineos’ five Dragon class ships, each with a capacity of about 260,000 bbls, has been moving supplies since Mar from Marcus Hook to Ineos’ plants in Rafnes, Norway, and Grangemouth, UK.
In July, Sabic’s second vessel, the Gaschem Orca (360,000 bbls) is expected to go into service and between 3Q and 4Q, Ineos’ remaining three Dragon ships (260,000 bbls) are also expected to hit the water. This would bring total dedicated ethane-capable vessel capacity to 6.41 million bbls, roughly equivalent of supplying a 3.3 billion lbs/yr ethane cracker for 71 days.
Ethane/ethylene data from the EIA shows exports rose from 2.621 million bbls (84,548 b/d) in Mar (when Marcus Hook began operating) to an all-time high of 3.466 million bbls (115,533 b/d) in Sep (when Enterprise’s Morgan’s Point terminal went into service,
Since then, exports have been trending lower, hitting 2.737 million bbls (91,233 b/d) in Nov. Envantage estimates exports averaged 68,200 b/d in Jan and 66,700 b/d in Feb. The slowdown was due to lower exports out of Marcus Hook toward year’s end as Ineos’ Rafnes cracker went offline after a fire and maintenance at EPD’s terminal early this year hindered loadings.
But with one Reliance vessel now loading at Morgan’s Point and another destined to arrive in mid-Mar, exports should steadily increase through the end of the year. -- Samantha Hartke
NGLs Week monitors ethane vessel movements on a weekly basis. Click on the link at the right for more information.