First Ineos Ethane Cargo Arrives in Scotland

Ineos Insight (file image via social media)

By MarEx 2016-09-27 21:00:46

The LPG carrier Ineos Insight arrived in Grangemouth, Scotland today with the first ever cargo of ethane delivered from the U.S. to the UK. 

The Insight, emblazoned with the slogan "Shale Gas for Manufacturing" along the length of her hull, arrived Tuesday with 28,000 cubic meters of ethane from the Marcellus Shale. However, high winds prevented her from docking safely, and Ineos confirmed in a statement that she would not be alongside the pier until Wednesday. 

The Insight is one of eight tankers Ineos has chartered for runs from the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast to its European plastic manufacturing facilities.

Ethane is a feedstock for the production of ethylene, and the shipments will solve a supply problem for Ineos' petchem plants in Grangemouth and Hull, and for an Exxon/Shell facility in Fife. 

Previously, these plants could rely on a steady flow of ethane from the development of the UK's North Sea oil and gas fields – but as those fields are maturing and their production is declining, Ineos has had to look for other resources. It has been running the Grangemouth plant at half capacity due to a gas shortfall, and it nearly closed it after a union dispute in 2013. The shipments from the U.S. will allow it to return to full production. 

Ethane is derived from the processing of natural gas, a resource abundant on the U.S. East Coast due to the use of hydraulic fracturing in the development of shale gas plays. Scotland's government has banned hydraulic fracturing until more environmental impact studies are completed. The ethane imports are controversial in Scotland, and no Scottish ministers attended the ceremony marking the Ineos Insight’s arrival, the BBC said. Ineos says that its groundbreaking trans-Atlantic transport scheme is essential to keeping its European plants open, and will save thousands of jobs in Scotland.

Ineos' first gas shipment departed Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania in March, bound for Norway. It was the first American waterborne export cargo of ethane.

“The investment by INEOS reverses a vicious circle of decline brought about by reducing raw materials from the North Sea. In its place we are creating virtuous cycle of new investment and new business, creating growth, improving competitiveness, bringing with it more investment,” said CEO John McNally in a prepared statement.