Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE: EPD) today announced that the process of injecting ethane into the Appalachia-to-Texas Express (“ATEX”) pipeline began in late November and will continue throughout December 2013. Commercial service is expected to begin in January 2014.
The 1,230-mile ATEX pipeline originates in Washington County, Pennsylvania and is, or will be, connected to four fractionators in the Marcellus/Utica Shale region. These plants include the MarkWest Houston plant in Pennsylvania and Cadiz plant in Ohio, the Blue Racer Natrium plant in West Virginia and the Utica East Ohio Scio plant in Ohio. ATEX will have an initial capacity of 125,000 barrels per day (“BPD”), expandable to at least 265,000 BPD. The project is supported by firm, ship-or-pay transportation agreements with 15-year terms. Approximately 65,000 BPD of those contracted volumes are expected to be transported initially, ramping up to more than 130,000 BPD beginning in 2018.
ATEX terminates at Enterprise’s Mont Belvieu, Texas complex which includes over 100 million barrels of natural gas liquid (“NGL”) and petroleum liquid storage capacity, more than 750,000 BPD of fractionation capacity and an extensive NGL distribution system. With the addition of its Aegis ethane pipeline now under construction, Enterprise will link Marcellus-produced ethane to every existing ethylene production facility in the U.S. and provide supply security to support construction of new crackers currently planned for the Gulf Coast. In addition, Enterprise’s distribution system supplies the partnership’s LPG export terminal on the Houston Ship Channel and a second export terminal that is under development, which could ultimately provide U.S.-produced ethane to international markets.
“The ATEX project provides producers in the rapidly growing Marcellus/Utica region with the critical ethane takeaway capacity that is needed now to allow them to continue developing their reserves, as well as gain access to the largest NGL market in the U.S.,” said A.J. “Jim” Teague, chief operating officer of Enterprise’s general partner. “With its expandability and eventual accessibility to our ethane header system, ATEX will supply petrochemical operators from Corpus Christi, Texas to the Mississippi River corridor in Louisiana with reliable sources of NGL feedstock, which continues to be cost advantaged compared to crude oil-based derivatives.”