HOUSTON (ICIS)--Enterprise Products plans to build the world's largest ethane export terminal on the Texas Gulf coast, the company announced on Tuesday.
Enterprise has executed long-term contracts to support the project, the company said.
The terminal will have a loading rate of up to 240,000 bbl/day, and it should start operations in the third quarter of 2016.
“We continue to receive strong interest from the international community for this project and are having ongoing discussions with other potential customers that could result in our contracting the remaining capacity of the facility," said Michael Creel, Enterprise CEO.
Enterprise will integrate the export terminal with its Mont Belvieu complex, which has more than 650,000 bbl/day of fractionation capacity and 100m bbl of storage for natural gas liquids (NGLs).
Mont Belvieu is the main US hub for NGLs. It is connected not only to producers in the Gulf coast, but also to growing NGL supplies in the Marcellus and Utica shales in the northeast US.
Enterprise recently completed the Appalachia-to-Texas Express (ATEX) pipeline, which connects the US northeast to Mont Belvieu.
The 1,230-mile (1,979km) pipeline starts in Washington County, Pennsylvania and will be connected to four fractionators in the Marcellus/Utica Shale region, Enterprise said.
ATEX will have an initial capacity of 125,000 bbl/day, expandable to at least 265,000 bbl/day.
The Enterprise ethane terminal will be the second in the US.
Sunoco Logistics's Marcus Hook terminal on the US east coast will export ethane to the INEOS cracker in Rafnes, Norway.
The ethane would be transferred to Marcus Hook from the Marcellus shale reserves in the Appalachian region via Sunoco’s planned Mariner East pipeline project.
The development of the two terminals illustrates how quickly companies have found destinations for growing supplies of US NGLs, made possible by the advent of shale gas.
Currently, Enterprise estimates that US ethane production exceeds demand by 300,000 bbl/day.