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Magical Mystery Tour, Part 6 - More Texas Fractionation Capacity Beyond the Mont Belvieu Hub

The NGL storage and fractionation hub at Mont Belvieu, TX, grabs all the attention, but more than 1 MMb/d of fractionation capacity — nearly one-third of Texas’s total — is located elsewhere in the Lone Star State. And with NGL production and demand for fractionation services soaring in the Permian, SCOOP/STACK and other nearby plays, the market will need all the fractionation capacity it can find. We’ve heard that there’s little, if any, gap between what the existing fractionators in Mont Belvieu can handle and what they’re being asked to process. That’s music to the ears of fractionation-plant owners elsewhere in Texas — assuming they aren’t already at capacity themselves, they might be able to pick up some overflow business from Mont Belvieu. Today, we continue our review of fractionators and other key NGL-related infrastructure along the Gulf Coast.

This is the sixth episode in our series. In Part 1, we discussed the fact that potential U.S. NGL production — including ethane that is rejected into natural gas — is now approaching 5 MMb/d, and noted that a number of new, ethane-consuming steam crackers are coming online along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast, conveniently close to the NGL storage and fractionation hub in Mont Belvieu. We also talked about the strong export market for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) — propane and normal butane — which has averaged more than 1 MMb/d in the first half of 2018 (almost all of it being shipped out of Gulf Coast ports), and for ethane exports too. In Part 2, we began a company-by-company review of the five big fractionation players in Mont Belvieu with a look at Enterprise Products Partners, which has more fractionators (nine) and more fractionation capacity (755 Mb/d) than anyone else there. We also discussed the Enterprise-owned NGL pipelines that transport y-grade to Mont Belvieu, its NGL and purity-product storage, and its Houston Ship Channel export terminals for LPG and ethane. Then, in Part 3, we looked at the fractionation assets of Cedar Bayou Fractionators (CBF; a joint venture 88%-owned by Targa Resources) and Lone Star NGL, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners. We noted that Targa’s Galena Park Marine Terminal on the Houston Ship Channel has the capacity to send out up to 230 Mb/d of propane and/or normal butane, and that propane and normal butane coming out of Lone Star NGL’s Mont Belvieu fractionation plants can be piped on Energy Transfer’s Mariner South pipeline to the company’s 200-Mb/d LPG export terminal in Nederland, TX. In Part 4, we discussed the fractionation plants owned by ONEOK and Gulf Coast Fractionators at Mont Belvieu, and in Part 5, we started a brief review of fractionation capacity and other key NGL-related assets located elsewhere in Texas — that is, not in Mont Belvieu — with a look at the fractionators owned by Enterprise, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Phillips 66.

We continue that review today, again taking a company-by-company approach. The color-coded circles in Figure 1 show the plants’ owners (see legend) and locations; the numbers within the circles show the plants’ fractionation capacity in Mb/d. As we said last time, almost all of the “non-Mont Belvieu” fractionators in Texas are sited within 100 miles or so of the Gulf Coast along a swath from Beaumont to southwest of Corpus Christi.

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