Construction is underway to increase loading capacity for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), primarily propane and butane, at the Enterprise Hydrocarbon Terminal (EHT) on the Houston Ship Channel by 175,000 b/d, or 5 million bbl per month.

The expansion would bring total LPG export capacity at EHT to 720,000 b/d, or 21 million bbl per month, said Houston-based Enterprise Product Partners LP.

“Enterprise is already the largest exporter of propane in the world and this expansion project will increase our ability to export LPGs from the EHT facility by another 30% with nominal capital investment,” said Enterprise’s Jim Teague, CEO of the general partner. “Domestic production of hydrocarbons continues to exceed expectations and U.S. demand.”

Domestic LPG production now exceeds U.S. demand by more than 1 million b/d, with terminals approaching full utilization, Teague said.

“We estimate that U.S. LPG production could increase by up to an additional 1.5 million b/d by 2025. Without access to international markets, excess LPG supplies would lead to a curtailment in U.S. crude oil and natural gas production growth. Marine terminal expansions like ours will be essential to balancing the market and meeting growing global demand for U.S. hydrocarbons.”

Citing demand growth for propylene and an already short market, Teague said during a 2Q2018 conference call last month that Enterprise has seen the need for more more LPG export capacity. The partnership’s propylene plant production volumes hit a record 100,000 b/d during the quarter, compared with 81,000 b/d for 2Q2017.

Once the LPG expansion project is completed, EHT would have the capability to load as many as six very large gas carrier (VLGC) vessels simultaneously, while maintaining the option to switch between propane and butane loadings.

The expansion would allow EHT to load a single VLGC in less than 24 hours, creating efficiencies and cost savings. The incremental capacity is expected to be available in the second half of 2019.