New fractionation plants, steam crackers and export facilities are being built along the Gulf Coast, all spurred by rising U.S. production of natural gas liquids. This incremental NGL output and these new projects are putting serious pressure on existing NGL pipeline and storage infrastructure, and prodding the development of new salt-cavern storage capacity for mixed NGLs, NGL purity products, and ethylene and other olefins. Also, new, expanded and repurposed pipelines to enhance NGL-related flows throughout the region are in the works. Today, we continue our series on NGL storage facilities along the Gulf Coast with a look at Easton Energy Services’ plans for more underground storage capacity in Markham, TX, and new NGL and olefin pipelines.
NGL storage capacity and the ability to quickly move mixed NGLs (also known as y-grade), purity products (ethane, propane, normal butane, isobutane and natural gasoline) and olefins like ethylene and propylene to where they need to be are critically important to those whose assets rely on a steady stream of these commodities for operations, production, transport, fractionation and export. As we said in Part 1 of this series, the most economical and practical way to transport and store these commodities is in their liquid state, which necessitates that the transport and storage occur under high pressure. And the most cost-effective way to provide large volumes of storage capacity at high pressure is to develop underground storage caverns within salt dome formations. There is currently about 260 MMbbl of NGL-related storage capacity in place at the NGL hub in Mont Belvieu, TX (red star in Figure 1), and more than 100 MMbbl at salt cavern facilities elsewhere along the Texas coast (blue and light-orange stars).
Tens of millions of barrels of additional storage capacity are in various stages of development in the region, and the aim of this series is to identify and describe major projects and where they stand. In Part 1, we noted that Phillips 66 is in the process of adding 6 MMbbl of capacity at the company’s 9-MMbbl Clemens Caverns facility near Brazoria, TX. This new storage capacity will support the development of new fractionation capacity nearby and a planned ethane-only steam cracker down the coast, as well as LPG exports from Phillips 66’s 200-Mb/d LPG export terminal in Freeport, TX. In Part 2, we discussed Caliche Development Partners’ Coastal Caverns project in Beaumont, TX, where the company has already developed a 5-MMbbl cavern for storing ethylene and is in the process of adding another 8 MMbbl of storage capacity. Caliche also has installed a header system to provide access to and from its NGL/ethylene storage facility via multiple pipeline interconnections.
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