Cochin ethane shipments to stop next week

12 April 2007 17:31  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Shipments of ethane on the Cochin pipeline system in Canada will be suspended from 15 April, pipeline operator Kinder Morgan said, and it remained unclear on Thursday when, if at all, they would be resumed.


This follows the suspension of ethylene shipments on the line last year.


The 1,900-mile Cochin feedstock pipeline moves natural gas liquids and petrochemicals from Alberta, through the US Upper Midwest, to Ontario’s petrochemicals hub in Sarnia.


US energy logistics firm Kinder Morgan said it was reducing the operating pressure on Cochin due to safety reasons, resulting in the suspension of ethane shipments.


The company had not yet determined if or when ethane shipments would resume, a spokeswoman said. Also, it currently had no plans to resume ethylene shipments, she said.


Kinder would continue shipping propane, butane and other liquids on Cochin, she said.


The removal of ethane would affect customers at the eastern end of the pipeline, the spokeswoman said but did not provide details.


John Cummings, an independent Toronto-based petrochemicals analyst, said that Imperial Oil’s ethylene plant in Sarnia would likely be affected.


Cummings estimated that the ExxonMobil-controlled company is drawing up to 9,000 bbl/day of ethane from Cochin.


The company would likely look at using propane and butane to replace ethane, he said. 


It could also supply additional feedstock from its Sarnia refinery and through the ExxonMobil network to feed the ethylene plant, he said.


Spokespeople at Imperial's headquarters in Calgary were not immediately available for additional comment on Thursday morning.


Cummings added that Dow Chemical’s decision last year to close all its manufacturing plants at Sarnia by 2008 was prompted by lack of feedstock there.


Industry participants said recently that plans for a new refinery by Shell at Sarnia offered prospects for additional feedstock, if the project went ahead.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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