The largest single shipment of ethane to date departed the terminal in Texas bound for China. The gas, which is a derivative stripped from natural gas, is in strong demand, especially in Asia, where it is used as an alternative to butane and propane by the petrochemical industry.

The record load of 911,000 of ethane was loaded aboard the Seri Everest, the world’s largest VLEC. The first in a class of six vessels, the Seri Everest was built by Samsung Heavy Industries and delivered to MISC Berhad in October 2020. 

The vessel departed on its maiden voyage from Orbit Gulf Coast NGL Exports’ newly constructed export facilities at Energy Transfer’s Nederland Terminal in Nederland, Texas, on January 17, 2021. It is destined for Satellite Petrochemical’s Lianyungang ethane cracker in northeastern Jiangsu Province, China. Its anticipated arrival at Lianyungang Port is mid-February 2021.

This current shipment marks the second large gas shipment to depart from the terminal in Texas. In December, the BG Gemini was loaded with a record 49,000 metric tons of LPG on its first voyage since being converted into a dual-fuel LPG vessel. This ship is currently sailing to Japan, where it is expected to arrive at the end of the month.

Orbit’s export terminal in Texas is one of only three U.S. ethane export terminals. It has a 1.2 million barrel ethane storage tank and an estimated 180,000 barrel per day ethane refrigeration facility. Energy Transfer also operates the Marcus Hook facility in Pennsylvania, which is also capable of handling VLECs. The combination of the two terminals represents over 50 percent of the U.S. waterborne export capacity. 

Under the joint venture with Satellite, Energy Transfer is the operator of Orbit’s assets, which also include a newly constructed 20-inch pipeline originating at Energy Transfer’s fractionation and storage facilities in Mont Belvieu, Texas, for ethane deliveries to the Nederland export terminal as well as domestic markets in the region. Energy Transfer also built infrastructure at Mont Belvieu to supply ethane to Orbit’s pipeline, and at Nederland to load the ethane onto VLECs. Under separate agreements, Energy Transfer will provide Satellite with approximately 150,000 barrels per day of ethane under a long-term, demand-based agreement, along with storage and marketing services.

Energy Transfer was the first company to export ethane out of the U.S. via ship in March 2016 from its Marcus Hook Terminal in Pennsylvania.

Source: The Maritime Executive