Enterprise Products Partners LP has begun operations of the final segment of the Aegis ethane pipeline, the 162-mile stretch that runs from Lake Charles to Napoleonville in Louisiana. Additionally, a Houston Ship Channel ethane export facility is nearing completion.

The 270-mile, 20-inch diameter Aegis system originates at Mont Belvieu, TX, which is the terminus for more than 3 million b/d of natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline capacity. Mont Belvieu is connected to more than 2 million b/d of industry fractionation capacity and is home to more than 110 million bbl of Enterprise-owned storage capacity.

Combined with the partnership’s existing South Texas pipeline network, Aegis is an integral part of an ethane header system capable of serving more than 20 petrochemical facilities along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast, Enterprise said.

Almost four months ago, the segment of the Aegis from Beaumont, TX, to Lake Charles was completed (see Daily GPI, Sept. 3, 2015).

“The Aegis system provides price-advantaged ethane feedstock and supply flexibility for the expanding network of petrochemical facilities along a 500-mile corridor between Corpus Christi, TX, and the Mississippi River,” said Jim Teague, COO of Enterprise’s general partner. “These facilities are expected to represent more than 90% of domestic ethylene capacity within the next five years.”

Customers have executed contracts for Aegis capacity totaling 360,000 b/d, which are to ramp up over the next four years. With additional pumps, the pipeline would have the capacity to transport about 400,000 b/d of ethane, according to Enterprise.

In March 2013, following at least two years of consideration, Enterprise committed to the Aegis project after receiving sufficient customer commitments (see Daily GPI, March 13, 2013). In summer 2011, Teague said the partnership envisioned “…an extensive header system that would literally stretch 550 miles from Corpus Christi [TX] to the Mississippi River,” he said at the time (see Daily GPI, Aug. 10, 2011).

Last July, Teague said Enterprise’s ethane export facility — announced in 2014 and under construction on the Houston Ship Channel — is on schedule for completion during the second quarter of 2016 (see Daily GPI, July 30, 2015; April 23, 2014). It is expected to have an aggregate loading rate of 10,000 bbl per hour and is supported by long-term contracts. It would be integrated with the Mont Belvieu NGL fractionation and storage complex.

“…[S]ignificant ethane shipping capacity is being built, and the world is trying to calibrate to the U.S. now having plentiful ethane available for export,” Teague said last July.