First Ethane Export Shipment Departs U.S.

Image courtesy INEOS

By MarEx 2016-03-10 21:26:26

The INEOS Intrepid, a purpose-built 23,000 gt gas carrier, has departed the Marcus Hook terminal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a cargo of 170,000 barrels of ethane, bound for Norway.

The ethane shipment is the first ever from the U.S. to Europe, charterer INEOS says, and analysts at Genscape say that it is the first American waterborne export cargo. 

“This is an important day for INEOS and Europe. We know that shale gas economics revitalized US manufacturing and for the first time Europe can access this important energy and raw material source too,” said Jim Ratcliffe, the firm's chairman and founder. Ethane is an important feedstock in petrochemical manufacturing. 

INEOS intends to hire a fleet of eight of the ethane-capable gas carriers, which it says will be among the world's largest. The vessels are being built by Sinopacific Offshore and Engineering, and are owned and operated by Danish firm Evergas.

INEOS' scheme to support petrochemical manufacturing operations in northern Europe by shipping inexpensive American ethane across the Atlantic is a novel undertaking, INEOS says, a break with past practice of using small ethane carriers on coastwise and short-sea routes. It says that a variety of commercial factors in the North Sea region were making it difficult to sustain petrochem production due to feedstock costs, and that the shipments would allow it to protect jobs and keep plants open in Scotland and Norway. 

Reflecting the firm’s pride of its new endeavor, the Intrepid has the motto "SHALE GAS FOR PROGESS" emblazoned along the length of her hull. Sister ship Ingenuity proclaims "SHALE GAS FOR CHEMICALS," and the INEOS Insight carries “SHALE GAS FOR MANUFACTURING."