A new isobutane dehydrogenation plant, part of the massive Mont Belvieu natural gas liquids (NGL) complex east of Houston should see increasing volumes over the next two weeks, Enterprise Product Partners LP said Monday.

Supported by long-term, fee-based contracts, the plant ultimately is to have the capability to process 25,000 b/d of butane into nearly 1 billion pounds/year of isobutylene.

Completing the NGL facility “extends our butane value chain by allowing us to increase production of both high purity and low purity isobutylene to be used primarily as feedstock to manufacture lubricants, rubber products and fuel additives,” said Enterprise’s A.J. “Jim” Teague, CEO of the general partner.

The new facility would provide the necessary feedstock to enable Enterprise to use methyl tert-butyl ether, aka MTBE, and high purity Isobutylene assets to meet growing market demand for isobutylene.

Isobutylene, a byproduct of ethylene production plants, has seen supplies decline because it is increasingly used in low-cost, light-end feedstocks, specifically ethane, instead of more expensive crude derivatives, according to Enterprise.

Development of the project also allows Enterprise to leverage an extensive integrated midstream network on the Gulf Coast. Earlier this month, Enterprise and Navigator Holdings Ltd. said the first ethylene cargo had shipped from their 50/50 joint venture marine terminal at Morgan’s Point on the Houston Ship Channel (HSC). Japan’s Marubeni Corp. is the customer for the 25 million pound cargo.

A second propane dehydrogenation plant, aka PDH 2, also is under construction by Enterprise at Mont Belvieu and is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2023, Teague said. Enterprise is partnering on PDH  with LyondellBasell Industries NV and is designed to consume 35,000 b/d of propane and produce up to 1.65 billion pounds/year of polymer grade propylene (PGP).

Enterprise’s network of PGP assets includes more than 300 miles of delivery pipelines, 26 PGP connections, more than five million bbl of storage capacity and an HSC export terminal. The Houston operator also has an offshore ethane export terminal underway.

In addition, Enterprise is expanding PGP refrigeration facilities at the HSC terminal to enable more than 5,000 bbl an hour to be loaded and allow co-loading of PGP and liquefied petroleum gas on very large gas carriers.