Lone Star Fractionator I in Mont Belvieu, TX, a 100,000 b/d natural gas liquids (NGL) facility designed to handle prolific NGL production in the Permian and Eagle Ford regions, is now in service, according to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Regency Energy Partners.

The facility, which is owned by Lone Star NGL LLC, a joint venture between the two partnerships, will handle NGL barrels delivered from several sources, including Lone Star’s West Texas Gateway NGL pipeline, via ETP’s Justice NGL Pipeline. The 570-mile, 16-inch diameter West Texas Gateway pipeline entered service in early December, transporting NGLs from the Permian and Delaware basins in West Texas to Mont Belvieu (see Shale Daily, Dec. 5).

Fractionator I is the first of two 100,000 b/d fractionators that Lone Star is placing in service to meet the critical NGL fractionation needs due to prolific NGL production in the Permian and Eagle Ford regions. Fractionator II is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013. And the partnerships said Lone Star continues to evaluate additional fractionation expansion opportunities in Mont Belvieu.

“The startup of Lone Star NGL’s first Mont Belvieu Fractionator completes our Texas NGL value chain,” said Steve Spaulding, executive vice president of Lone Star NGL. “We can now provide producers raw make gathering from far west Texas, fractionation services at Mont Belvieu, NGL storage, and purity NGL product distribution to the refineries and petrochemical facilities along the Houston Ship Channel.”

ETP also announced that its 200 MMcf/d Karnes County Processing Plant is in service. The plant and phase one of the partnership’s Jackson Plant, which is due to provide an additional 400 MMcf/d of capacity upon completion in the first quarter of 2013, “are an integral part of Eagle Ford Shale projects coming on line in the next several months that will provide significant cash flow to the partnership,” ETP said.

In mid-2011 Enterprise Products Partners LP cited robust growth in Eagle Ford Shale liquids-rich gas production in South Texas as the rationale behind its plans to add yet more fractionation capacity at the Mont Belvieu NGL complex (see Shale Daily, June 28, 2011).

The Eagle Ford remains the most active of the nation’s shale plays, with 231 rigs operating in the week ending Dec. 28, according to NGI‘s Shale Daily Unconventional Rig Count. That was three fewer rigs than a week earlier and five fewer than at the end of 2011.