In a key development for American energy exports, Energy Transfer today announced the first Very Large Ethane Carrier (VLEC) has been loaded under its joint venture with Satellite Petrochemical USA Corp., Orbit Gulf Coast NGL Exports, LLC (Orbit), and departed from Orbit’s newly constructed export facilities at Energy Transfer’s Nederland Terminal in Texas on January 17.
In a press release, Energy Transfer highlighted that the Seri Everest – the world’s largest VLEC – was loaded with more than 911,000 barrels of ethane destined for Satellite’s Lianyungang ethane cracker in northeastern Jiangsu Province, China, the largest single shipment of ethane to date. Its anticipated arrival at Lianyungang Port is mid-February 2021. The release noted:
Orbit’s export terminal at Nederland, one of only three U.S. ethane export terminals, includes a 1.2 million barrel ethane storage tank and an estimated 180,000 barrel per day ethane refrigeration facility. Energy Transfer’s Marcus Hook facility in Pennsylvania is also capable of handling VLECs. The combination of the two terminals represent 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. In association with Orbit, Energy Transfer also completed its build-out of wholly owned infrastructure at Mont Belvieu to supply ethane to Orbit’s pipeline, and at Nederland to load the ethane onto VLECs.
The shale revolution has allowed the U.S. to become a leading producer of NGLs like ethane. Increasing U.S. ethane export capacity is key as the U.S. is now the world’s largest ethane producer, and bolstering our energy export capabilities strengthens American geopolitical interests at home and abroad and can help advance our foreign policy goals.