Last week, U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, Democrat-W.Va., Shelley Moore Capito, Republican-W.Va., and Rob Portman, Republican-Ohio, introduced legislation to help keep Appalachian Basin ethane in the region, encouraging construction of more petrochemical plants such as crackers.
“The Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study Act will help us figure out the best way to utilize the region’s resources and improve our infrastructure. Not only will this legislation inform future projects and policies, but it will also help attract private dollars to ensure Appalachia remains an important player in America’s energy and manufacturing strategy,” Capito said.
The legislation, if enacted, would direct the U.S. Departments of Energy and Commerce to study the impact of establishing a “subterranean ethane storage and distribution hub” for the Marcellus, Utica and Rogersville Shale region, the Wheeling (W.Va.) Intelligencer newspaper reported.
This would include analyzing potential locations based on favorable geology, existing infrastructure, and proximity to well sites and end users, such as cracker plants.
Earlier this year, PTT Global Chemical officials said they would wait until the end of 2017 to make a final investment decision on whether to build an ethane cracker along the Ohio River in Belmont County, Ohio.
Shell’s $6 billion cracker in Beaver County, Pa., is slated to be online early in the 2020s, Kallanish Energy reports.
Roughly 12 miles south of the proposed PTT cracker site, Denver-based Energy Storage Ventures hopes to begin storing ethane before the end of 2018. Officials said the ethane would be pumped into and out of the underground caverns through pipelines.
Some Marcellus and Utica Shale ethane is now being shipped out of the region for cracking, but the rest of it is blended into the rest of the methane stream to be sold as commercial natural gas. The senators said they want to “end this waste,” the Intelligencer reported.
“Our region’s access to natural gas and natural gas liquids, like ethane and propane, combined with our proximity to manufacturing markets in the Midwest and the East Coast make West Virginia an ideal location for a storage hub,” Manchin said.