Enterprise Products Partners LP said Tuesday an open season has shown that enough shippers are interested in taking capacity on its proposed Appalachia to Texas (Atex Express) ethane pipeline to support the 1,230-mile project. The pipeline would deliver ethane from the Marcellus/Utica Shale areas of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Late last year Enterprise said Chesapeake Energy Corp. had stepped up to be an anchor shipper on the project (see Shale Daily, Nov. 3, 2011).

Demand for price-advantaged ethane feedstock over crude oil-based derivatives within the Gulf Coast petrochemical market is approximately 955,000 b/d and continues to increase, Enterprise said. Atex Express is to have capacity to transport up to 190,000 b/d from the Appalachian production areas to the partnership’s storage and distribution assets in Texas. The committed shipper transportation rate is expected to be 14.5-15.5 cents per gallon.

“The willingness of shippers to commit to a term of at least 15 years reflects the long-term potential of shale development in the Appalachian region and provides us with the assurance necessary to build the midstream infrastructure that will facilitate further development of this important domestic resource,” said Michael A. Creel, CEO of Enterprise’s general partner. “In addition to providing valuable takeaway capacity that gives producers access to the most attractive markets, the Atex Express pipeline will also serve as an economic driver for the country and the communities in which it will be located.”

Originating in Washington County, PA, the first leg of the system would involve construction of 595 miles of pipeline extending to Cape Girardeau, MO, closely paralleling an existing Enterprise pipeline. At Cape Girardeau, Enterprise would reverse a 16-inch diameter pipeline and place it into ethane service. By utilizing an existing pipeline and following an existing right-of-way for the section to be constructed, the project’s costs and environmental impact are minimized, Enterprise said.

At the end of the pipeline Enterprise said it will construct a 55-mile, 16-inch diameter pipeline to provide access to its natural gas liquids storage complex at Mont Belvieu, TX, giving shippers direct or indirect access to every ethylene plant in the United States.

Enterprise said it is negotiating right-of-way agreements and the project could be in service in the first quarter of 2014.