A few years ago when fracking came into the news, economists became enthusiastic about the great potential for the U.S. to ship oil and its by-products to other countries. It had potential for making the U.S. even greater by providing fuel independence. We’d be more an exporter instead of importer.
Now, the first ship has arrived in the Houston, TX., Ship Channel. It will be the first ship to carry ethane from a Gulf Coast terminal. It’s owner is Enterprise which has a new ethane facility in Texas and is ready to begin shipping..
The extracted by-product, HGL, is in demand for the manufacture of plastics and other products. When fracking made the U.S. natural gas supplies abundant, it also made cheap ethane available.
HGL is made of methane, propane, butane, isobutene, natural gas, refinery olefins and ethane. There are several petrochemical plants and export facilities in the U.S. being built right now to increase the amounts of ethane extracted from natural gas.
Begin watching for these new ships transporting natural gas and its by-products. When all the new petrochemical and export plants are working in 2018, it is expected to increase the demand. Ethane production is expect to increase to 1.5 million barrels a day by the end of next year.