(Originally for OilPro.com)
The first-ever cargo of US shale gas has arrived in Europe. The delivery arrived on Wednesday at the INEOS petrochemical plant in Rafnes in Norway. The shale gas was sourced from the Marcellus shale play and shipped on the INEOS Intrepid, the world's largest multi gas carrier. This is the first time that ethane from US shale gas has ever been exported from the US and the first time it has been imported into Europe.
The 27,500m3 of shale gas ethane arriving in Norway represents the culmination of a $2 billion investment by INEOS, the company said Wednesday. INEOS plans to use 8 of its multi gas carriers to provide "a virtual pipeline" sending US shale gas to its two petrochemical sites in Scotland and Norway, as "US shale gas replaces the reducing gas feed from the North Sea."
INEOS has built the largest two ethane gas storage tanks in Europe at Rafnes in Norway and Grangemouth in Scotland to receive the gas. The company says it will use the ethane in its two gas crackers at Rafnes and Grangemouth, both as a fuel and as a feedstock. INEOS expects shipments to Grangemouth to begin later this year. The Grangemouth facility is Scotland's largest manufacturing complex and has Europe's biggest ethane storage tank.
The INEOS Intrepid is one of four specially designed Dragon class ships that will form part of a fleet of eight of the world’s largest ethane capable carriers. The INEOS Intrepid has “SHALE GAS FOR PROGRESS” written along its 180 meter (590 feet) length.
The project has included the design and long term charter of all eight Dragon class ships which INEOS says will create a virtual pipeline across the Atlantic; connection to the new 300-mile Mariner East pipeline from the Marcellus shale in Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook deep water terminal near Philadelphia, together with new export facilities and storage tanks.