This is the first time that U.S. shale gas has ever been imported into Europe and finally gives the continent the chance to benefit from U.S. shale gas economics which did so much to revitalise manufacturing in the USA.
The INEOS Intrepid is one of four specially designed Dragon class ships that will form part of a fleet of eight of the world’s largest ethane capable carriers. The INEOS Intrepid has “SHALE GAS FOR PROGRESS” emblazoned along its 180 metre length.
The shale gas is cooled to -90ºC (-130ºF) for the journey of 3,800 miles, which is expected to take nine to ten days. US shale gas will complement the reducing gas feed from the North Sea.
The project has included the long-term chartering of eight Dragon class ships and will create a virtual pipeline across the Atlantic; connection to the new 300 mile Mariner East pipeline from the Marcellus shale in Western Pennsylvania to the Markus Hook deep water terminal near Philadelphia, with new export facilities and storage tanks.
To receive the gas, INEOS has built the largest two ethane gas storage tanks in Europe at Rafnes in Norway and Grangemouth in Scotland.
INEOS will use the ethane from US shale gas in its two gas crackers at Rafnes and Grangemouth, both as a fuel and as a feedstock. It is expected that shipments to Grangemouth will start later this year.