Oil & Gas Financial Journal
Ethane disposition poses a risk for Marcellus Shale production

Friday, October 01, 2010

Producers in the Marcellus shale may be forced to curtail natural gas production unless they can come up with a viable way to dispose of ethane, an associated gas, according to a new study from BENTEK Energy. The report assesses the magnitude of the ethane problem, examines several projects designed to address this issue, and proposes a framework for assessing the viability of each of the options.

In most natural gas producing regions, ethane is a highly-valued byproduct of natural gas production, sold as an important feedstock for the petrochemical industry. But in the rapidly growing Marcellus producing region of the Appalachian basin, ethane is viewed by some natural gas producers as a contaminant that could threaten development plans in the area.

The BENTEK study, A Home for Marcellus Ethane, examines several projects that have been announced to address this problem, including three proposals from Buckeye, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge to build pipelines from the Marcellus to Canada and Chicago:
     • a proposal from MarkWest and Sunoco to move ethane by ship to the Gulf Coast; 
     • the conversion of a portion of the Tennessee natural gas pipeline by El Paso to move 
       ethane to Baton Rouge, La; and 
     • a Williams proposal to blend the ethane with low-BTU gas in the Northeast and market 
       the product as pipeline specification natural gas.

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