MARTINS FERRY - Even as officials in Ohio work to attract the $5.7 billion PTT Global Chemical plant to crack ethane, Sunoco Logistics and Kinder Morgan collectively plan to spend about $3.5 billion moving the material out of the Marcellus and Utica shale region.
Last week, the first ethane tanker departed Sunoco's Marcus Hook Industrial Complex for its trans-Atlantic journey to deliver the product to an Ineos petrochemical plant in Norway. Up to 70,000 barrels of ethane per day now cross Pennsylvania via Sunoco's Mariner East 1 pipeline on the journey to Marcus Hook.
Sunoco is now working on the Mariner East 2 pipeline, which the company plans to have carry additional ethane, propane, butane and other natural gas liquids through Pennsylvania by next year. The company estimates the total cost of its Mariner East project at $3 billion.
Sunoco maps indicate the Mariner lines will transport products refined at the Williams Energy Oak Grove plant and the Blue Racer Natrium facility in Marshall County, as well as the MarkWest Energy and M3 Midstream sites in Harrison County.
Simultaneously, Kinder Morgan is working on the $500 million Utopia Pipeline, which would send the ethane from MarkWest's Harrison County fractionator across Ohio to a connection with existing company infrastructure in Michigan. The ethane would then go onward to Corunna in Ontario, Canada for processing by NOVA Chemicals Corp.
Initial capacity is estimated at 50,000 barrels per day, but this could eventually expand to 75,000 barrels per day.
These conduits are in addition to the ATEX Express pipeline that actively sends Marcellus and Utica ethane to the Gulf Coast, as well as Sunoco's Mariner West project that already ships the material to the Nova facility in Canada. Because there is still no ethane cracker in the Marcellus and Utica region, producers continue looking for additional outlets for the natural gas liquid.
Therefore, as PTT officials consider their Ohio project - while those with Royal Dutch Shell continue evaluating a cracker at the site near Monaca, Pa. - other firms continue making deals to send ethane around the globe for processing.
"Mariner East 1 is an important milestone for the natural gas and manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania," Michael J. Hennigan, Sunoco Logistics' president and CEO said. "Mariner East 1 is the starting point; Mariner East 2 presents the opportunity to fully realize those benefits."
The Mariner 2 project features even more capacity than the first pipeline, as the new conduit will be able to handle up to 275,000 barrels of liquids per day.