Get Ready: Fast-Growing NGL Production and Exports Driving Infrastructure Build-Out

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The rise in U.S. NGL production over the past decade and a half was accompanied by a massive buildout of NGL-related infrastructure: everything from gas gathering systems and gas processing plants to NGL pipelines, fractionators, ethane-consuming steam crackers along the Gulf Coast (and in western Pennsylvania), and export terminals capable of loading and sending out large volumes of ethane and LPG. While many individual infrastructure assets are owned and operated by a number of midstream companies of various sizes, a substantial portion of NGL volumes flow through larger “well-to-market” or “well-to-water” networks owned by a handful of larger midstream companies.

Developed over many years and with a lot of forethought, each of these multifaceted networks can take NGLs from where they emerge from underground (the well) all the way to the export dock (the water), often with only minimal (or no) assistance from others. That start-to-finish management of the NGL stream provides a number of important benefits — chief among them, the ability to operate with extraordinary efficiency, collect fees from shippers each step of the way, and feed pipelines, fractionators, storage and export terminals along the network’s value chain. In this Drill Down Report, we describe these NGL networks in detail. They include the Gulf Coast-focused networks owned and operated by Enterprise Products Partners, Energy Transfer, Targa Resources and Phillips 66 and the Northeast-focused network owned and run by Energy Transfer.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • NGL production continues to soar, and new infrastructure is required to deal with the higher volumes.
  • The focus of development is the Permian — new processing plants and new NGL pipeline capacity to Texas’s Gulf Coast.
  • New fractionation and export capacity is also being built and planned.
  • Most of the new infrastructure is being developed by a handful of larger midstreamers that own and operate ‘well-to-water’ NGL networks.
  • Enterprise’s new plan for $3.1 billion in projects suggests the boom in development is far from over.

Get Ready” is included in RBN Energy’s 2023 Drill Down report series, a suite of reports covering many of the key issues expected to impact the markets for crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. Drill Down reports are part of RBN Backstage Pass™ premium resources that also include Blog Archive Access, Spotcheck Indicators, Market Fundamentals Webcasts, Get-Togethers and more. By subscribing to RBN’s Backstage Pass™ Premium Services, you plug into our network and get direct access to our premium resources.

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