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Sunoco’s Ethane Truck Terminal in Pennsylvania Moving More NGLs

Sunoco Partners Marketing and Terminals said Monday it has commissioned an ethane distribution facility at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex near Philadelphia, providing another outlet for natural gas liquids (NGL) in the Appalachian Basin.

The Energy Transfers Partners LP (ETP) subsidiary said the facility is the first of its kind in the country to provide refrigerated liquid ethane for truck delivery. Trucks can load two at a time. That capacity is expandable to handle additional demand.

Texas-based Gas Innovations, Sunoco’s first customer, loaded its first truck in September. Gas Innovations is providing ethane via truck, containers and repackaged compressed ethane in tube trailers and cylinders to companies throughout the United States for use as chemical feedstock, refrigerant and other industrial applications.

Gas Innovations had been buying ethane from Europe, Sunoco said, because U.S. suppliers were unable to provide it in smaller batches.

Ethane and propane are delivered from western Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook on the Mariner East (ME) 1 pipeline system. The ME 2 pipeline, which would move ethane, butane and propane from eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia is currently under construction. An ETP subsidiary has plans for a third pipeline that would run parallel to ME 2.

Sunoco also said Monday its ME 2 pipeline would provide ethane to fuel a new power plant under development in Cambria County, PA.

The basin lacks NGL outlets, but those constraints are slowly being eased. Marcus Hook was once an oil refinery repurposed for NGL storage, processing and distribution to domestic and international markets. The first Appalachian ethane exports were sent last year to Norway.

An affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell plc is also constructing an ethane cracker in Pennsylvania and four other similar facilities have been proposed for the region. Other companies have infrastructure projects in various stages of development throughout the basin to move NGLs. 

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