Ineos to ship US-made Ethane to China

After making waves by branching out into several new fields recently, Ineos is turning again to shale gas while widening its corporate franchise into third-party shipping.

The Swiss-based chemical producer said it has signed a long-term agreement with China’s SP Chemicals to ship a “competitive” supply of ethane feedstock derived from US shale gas to that company’s new gas cracker currently under construction in Taixing, China.

The facility is due to go on stream in 2019 producing 650,000 t/y of ethylene.

In announcing the deal on Dec. 7, Ineos said it includes construction of “the largest-ever” ethane carrier. The vessel with a capacity of 95,000 cbm, belonging to the category Very Large Ethane Carrier or VLEC, is scheduled to be delivered in 2018.

By contrast, the VLEC that Indian chemical producer Reliance Industries took delivery of in 2016, and billed as “the world's first” Very Large Ethane Carrier, could hold more than 87,000 cbm of the liquefied gas.

Like the smaller dragon ships used to transport shale-derived ethane from the US Marcellus Fields in Pennsylvania to Ineos’ crackers in Scotland and Norway, the new carrier, to be built in China by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co (DISIC), will be operated by Denmark’s Evergas, part of the JACCAR group.

This will be the first VLEC in in Evergas’ fleet of 23 gas ships, Ineos said.

Chan Hian Siang, CEO of SP Chemicals, said the deal with the European chemical giant will help his company fulfil its dreams of upstream integration.

David Thompson, CEO of Ineos Trading and Shipping, called the pact with China “another world first” for the Swiss group with British roots, after importing shale gas to Europe for the first time in 2015.

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