Emerging ethane market can’t be ignored


As anyone following the oil and gas market in the US knows, ethane is now plentiful and available at economical prices. The sudden growth in US shale gas development has brought an equally dramatic surge in supply of natural gas liquids, and ethane is far and away the least expensive and most abundant natural gas liquid found in the relatively “wet” shale-sourced gas.

Not too many years ago, companies were shuttering their cracker plants in the United States because of the high cost of naphtha. That was before technological advances in shale development made it possible to produce oil and natural gas liquids, most notably ethane, at a very competitive cost. Today, additional drilling areas are being discovered both in “old” plays such at the Permian and in relatively new ones such as the Marcellus, Eagle Ford, and Bakken plays, not to mention new formations being found under long-known formations.

The United States is truly blessed in hydrocarbons, and it now has the technological capability to produce them economically, without having to depend on oil from elsewhere in the world. Our position of abundance looks even better when you consider that our neighbors to the North are also rich in hydrocarbons and our neighbors to the South have opened their hydrocarbon opportunities to private investment.

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