Austria-based petrochemical producer Borealis said it will begin importing Appalachian shale gas for its European crackers beginning in the fourth quarter.

The company, along with Navigator Holdings, named their gas carrier ship Navigator Aurora in a ceremony in China on May 3. Borealis said the ship will be commissioned in 4Q2016 and enter commercial operations shortly thereafter. At a length of 590 feet and with the ability to carry more than 220,000 bbl, the ship is one of the largest carriers of its kind in the world.

Borealis CEO Mark Garrett said the company will be importing up to 240,000 metric tons (mt) of ethane per year for its flexible crackers in Stenungsund, Sweden and Porvoo, Finland, which can both use a mix of feedstocks including ethane, propane and other natural gas liquids.

The Navigator Aurora will deliver Appalachian ethane from Sunoco Logistics Partners LP's Marcus Hook Industrial Complex just south of Philadelphia to the Sweden cracker, which is being upgraded to include an ethane storage tank, among other things. Borealis said that multi-million dollar project is on schedule.

Ethane exports began from Marcus Hook in March, when Switzerland-based INEOS Group Ltd.'s ship arrived to carry 173,000 bbl of ethane from the Marcellus Shale to its cracker in Norway (see Shale DailyMarch 10). INEOS has invested $2 billion to bring the gas to Europe. Sunoco said at the time that exports would be ongoing.

In 2014, Borealis signed a 10-year agreement with Antero Resources Corp. to supply it with ethane (see Daily GPIAug. 12, 2014). That deal also included a shipping agreement with Navigator Holdings. Borealis said at the time that the supply would complement another contract it had signed with Statoil ASA.

The 240,000 mt/year Borealis is importing from the Appalachian Basin is a small percentage of what its crackers can process. The Swedish facility has a capacity of 625,000 mt/year, while the Finnish facility has a capacity of 400,000 mt/year.  The company provides polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers.