Rex Energy Corp. said Monday that it has reached an agreement with INEOS Europe AG to sell the petrochemical company ethane, propane and butane for its overseas facilities, making it the latest Appalachian producer to sign a deal to send U.S. shale gas abroad.
Rex said ethane deliveries have already started on Sunoco Logistics Partners LP's Mariner East (ME) 1. The pipeline became fully operational earlier this year. It ships natural gas liquids (NGL) from Western Pennsylvania to Sunoco's Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, a former oil refinery that's being repurposed for NGL storage, processing and distribution to domestic and international markets.
"With the new sales agreement, we will now have three different outlets to deliver our natural gas liquids volumes, both domestic and international," said Rex CEO Tom Stabley. "The new outlets will enhance the economics of our wells in the Butler Operated Area and our overall resource potential," he added of the company's core acreage in Western Pennsylvania’s Butler County.
Since 2012, INEOS has announced a series of deals with Appalachian producers. Range Resources Corp. reached a 15-year agreement with Sunoco in 2012 to anchor ME 1, agreeing to send 40,000 b/d of ethane and propane to Marcus Hook (see Shale Daily, Sept. 28, 2012). In 2014, Consol Energy Inc. and Antero Resources Corp. announced similar deals, while last year, units of ExxonMobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell plc announced a deal with INEOS to provide ethane (see Shale Daily, Nov. 10, 2015; Feb. 14, 2014).
"This contract adds to our supply portfolio providing for long-term sourcing of advantageously priced U.S. natural gas liquids for our European crackers," said INEOS Trading and Shipping CEO David Thompson of the Rex deal.
INEOS has invested $2 billion to bring U.S. shale gas to Europe. The company's first shipment of ethane set sail from Marcus Hook on March 9 and arrived at the Rafnes ethane cracker in Norway on March 23 (see Shale Daily, March 10). The company said late last month that it had also recommissioned the second train at its Grangemouth cracker in Scotland ahead of shale gas deliveries that are expected to arrive this fall (see Shale Daily, March 29).
Exports are expected to grow as Sunoco is still developing the ME 2 pipeline, which would transport ethane, butane and propane from processing and fractionation complexes in Eastern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Sunoco is also currently holding an open season for a third ME pipeline (see Shale Daily, Sept. 14, 2015).
Rex said propane and butane supplies would start in 2017, when ME 2 is expected to enter service (see Shale Daily, Feb. 26).