The first ever shipment of US-produced ethane was exported on Wednesday with the JS Ineos Intrepid sailing out down the Delaware River from Sunoco’s Marcus Hook refinery in Pennsylvania, bound for a petrochemical facility in Norway, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Danish-flagged vessel carried 173,000 barrels of ethane, which is a liquid used in plastics manufacturing. Ethane is derived from natural gas production and the ongoing shale boom in the US interior makes it plentiful. Like propane and butane, ethane is known as a natural gas liquid (NGL).
The boom in natural gas in shale deposits in inland US has led to a surplus of NGL’s like ethane, making possible their export.
While the initiation of the US LNG (liquefied natural gas) export trade and the lifting of a longstanding US oil export ban have stolen the limelight in recent months, the potential ethane export boom has been overlooked, but it is another milestone in US energy shipments.