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Sasol Picks Boardwalk Unit for Ethane/Ethylene Midstream Services

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP unit Boardwalk Louisiana Midstream LLC (BLM) was selected to provide ethane and ethylene storage and transportation services to Sasol Chemicals (USA) LLC's proposed large-scale ethane cracker and derivatives complex near Westlake, LA.

The companies said Wednesday that they signed a long-term agreement contingent upon a final investment decision on the project by Sasol.

The agreement would allow BLM to expand natural gas liquids storage and transportation assets at its Sulphur Hub in the Lake Charles, LA, area. The project would include BLM drilling and developing two new storage wells, one each for ethane and ethylene, and constructing new pipeline facilities and an interconnection with a third-party pipeline.

The new storage wells would more than triple the current storage capacity at the company's Sulphur Hub and would create opportunities for additional storage and transportation services for other petrochemical and refining customers in the Lake Charles area, BLM said.

During a first quarter earnings conference call this week, Boardwalk CEO Stan Horton talked up diversification opportunities for the natural gas pipeline- and storage-focused company, which has seen its fortunes wane as market-area shale gas supplies devalued its capacity (see Shale DailyApril 28). Horton cited Boardwalk's acquisition of BLM as an example of the type of diversification he has in mind.

"This project demonstrates that we are executing our strategy to expand our presence as a critical service provider to the petrochemical industry," said BLM President Kevin Miller of the Sasol deal. "In addition, this project is an example of the growth potential Boardwalk anticipated when it acquired the BLM assets in October 2012."

In late 2012 Sasol announced a $16 billion to $21 billion gas-to-liquids (GTL) and ethane cracker complex (see Daily GPIDec. 4, 2012). Sasol has said it expects to conclude the front-end engineering and design phase for the ethane cracker this year. The company expects to a reach final investment decision for the GTL project in 2016 (see Daily GPIDec. 24, 2013).

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