Gulf Coast Fractionators said it will expand the capacity of its natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionation facility in Mont Belvieu, TX, by 43,000 b/d (42%) to 145,000 b/d.

Gulf Coast is a partnership of ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy Corp. and Targa Resources Partners LP.

ConocoPhillips, as the operator, will manage the expansion. Existing operations are not expected to be disrupted during the construction phase. The expansion is expected to be operational during the second quarter of 2012, subject to regulatory approvals.

The total capital expenditure of about $75 million is expected to be "significantly lower" than a greenfield fractionation facility since the new capacity will be integrated with existing capacity, utilities, infrastructure and footprint already at Mont Belvieu, Targa Resources said.

As producers continue to target shale gas plays that are rich in NGLs, the North American supply of ethane has grown to a point where some have predicted a glut due to the petrochemical industry's ability to absorb it all (see Daily GPI, Sept. 22; Aug. 24).

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