Markwest to build Marcellus Shale ethane pipeline to Gulf Coast

Source: MarkWest Energy Partners

MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources, LLC, a partnership between MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P. (MWE) and The Energy & Minerals Group, and Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (SXL) today announced a combined pipeline and marine project for ethane produced in the Marcellus Shale Basin. 

The Mariner Project is anticipated to have initial capacity to transport up to 50,000 barrels per day of ethane to Gulf Coast markets as soon as the second quarter of 2012 and could be scaled to transport higher volumes to support additional ethane production in the Marcellus region. 

MarkWest Liberty has been working with key producers and petrochemical consumers since late 2009, and the project is supported by key producers including Range Resources Corporation (RRC) and Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK). 

The Mariner Project includes MarkWest Liberty making minor modifications to its processing facilities to recover sufficient ethane to allow the residue gas to meet interstate gas pipeline specifications and installing additional facilities at its Houston, Pennsylvania processing and fractionation complex to separate the ethane for delivery to downstream Mariner Project facilities. 

MarkWest Liberty will also construct a 45-mile pipeline from the Houston complex to an interconnection with an existing Sunoco Logistics pipeline at Delmont, Pennsylvania. The ethane will be transported to an existing East Coast facility where Sunoco Logistics will construct refrigerated ethane storage facilities. The ethane will then be transported via marine vessel to premium markets in the Gulf Coast. 

In addition, the existing Sunoco Logistics pipeline crosses many of the large pipelines transporting natural gas into the northeast, which will provide multiple ethane blending options. 

“Our existing Pennsylvania active and idle pipeline infrastructure is well-positioned to provide an efficient solution for producers to move ethane across Pennsylvania to a Delaware River marine port to access multiple markets,” said Deborah M. Fretz, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sunoco Logistics. “The combination of MarkWest Liberty’s fractionation complex and Sunoco Logistics’ transportation system offers producers a higher value for their natural gas liquids by transporting only the ethane portion of the liquids and allowing the heavier liquids to remain in the northeast marketplace.” 

Frank M. Semple, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of MarkWest stated, “We have been working with Sunoco Logistics and our producer customers for a number of months and we believe the Mariner Project provides the most efficient solution to maximize the value of Marcellus ethane, supports the development of more than 2 BCF per day of Marcellus rich gas, and significantly accelerates the in-service date to transport ethane compared to other pipeline projects. MarkWest and The Energy & Minerals Group are very pleased to partner with Sunoco Logistics because of their strong set of assets and significant experience in the storage and transportation of liquefied petroleum gas.”

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