Borealis Takes First US Ethane Shipment?

  • (c) Cbenjasuwan/Shutterstock(c) Cbenjasuwan/Shutterstock

The Navigator Aurora, a 35,000 cbm vessel owned by New York, USA-based  Navigator Gas and chartered by European polyolefins producer Borealis under a long-term contract, was due to arrive in Sweden imminently, carrying US ethane to the cracker operated by Borealis at Stenungsund, reports said last week. The company had not commented at press time.

Borealis said in 2014 it had signed a 10-year supply contract with Antero Resources of Denver, Colorado, to source ethane from the US Marcellus and Utica shale gas basins and was investing in an ethane storage tank, scheduled to be ready by late 2016.  The plans called for ethane imports of 240,000 t/y.

Also in 2014, the Vienna-based company signed a long-term shipping agreement with Navigator, along with service contracts with the Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania terminal operated by Sunoco Logistics. After reports of long delays in loading in the US, CEO Mark Garrett said in May that Borealis had been purchasing ethane from Ineos.

According to the petrochemicals news agency Platt’s, the company’s 625,000 t/y cracker at Stenungsund and its 400,000 t/y cracker in Porvoo, Finland, are both able to process a mix of feedstocks including liquids, LPG and ethane.

After Ineos and SABIC, Borealis is the third petrochemical producer to import US shale gas-derived ethane for its European crackers. Ineos took the first deliveries for its facilities at Grangemouth, Scotland, and Rafnes, Norway, last year and SABIC for its cracker in Teesside, UK, this year.

The US shale boom has now reached the European consumer directly. The first-ever deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for heating homes and supplying power grids were scheduled to arrive at the Isle of Grain port in Kent, UK, at the beginning of July. In June, the first US shale gas-derived LNG was unloaded at Świnoujście, Poland.

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