Enterprise Products Partners LP, which has quickly secured more liquids takeaway from the Permian Basin, said construction has begun east of Houston with partner Navigator Holdings Ltd. to build an ethylene export terminal.

The 50-50 joint venture (JV), originally launched in January, is to be sited at Enterprise’s Morgan’s Point facility on the Houston Ship Channel (HSC). The project is to have capacity to export up to 2.2 billion pounds/year, with refrigerated storage for 66 million pounds. The project should be able to load ethylene at rates of 2.2 million pounds/hour.

“By providing access to international markets, the new export terminal will facilitate continued growth of domestic ethylene production, which is expected to reach 90 billion pounds/year by 2021,” the partners said. “In addition, the terminal being constructed by Enterprise and Navigator will promote supply diversification for expanding markets like Asia, which rely on cost-advantaged U.S. feedstocks.”

Houston-based Enterprise had kicked around launching the export project for months, keyed in part to the massive production growth in the Permian Basin. Last year, Enterprise began building the Shin Oak natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline from West Texas to Mont Belvieu, its gas processing facility near Houston.

Last week Apache Corp., which is working to secure takeaway options for its surging Alpine High project in West Texas, inked a long-term agreement giving Enterprise 100% of the NGL production, with Enterprise committing to accept a minimum of 205,000 b/d.

The high-capacity ethylene salt dome storage facility Enterprise is developing at its complex in Mont Belvieu is scheduled to begin service by mid-2019. Once completed, the facility is to have a capacity of about 600 million pounds with an injection/withdrawal rate of 420,000 pounds/hour and enable connections to the eight ethylene pipelines within a half-mile of the ethylene storage system. In addition, Enterprise is building an ethylene pipeline from Mont Belvieu to Bayport on the Texas coast, scheduled to ramp up in 2020. The section from Mont Belvieu to Morgan’s Point would support the export terminal.

Enterprise last month also purchased a 65-acre waterfront site on the HSC to serve as the next phase of expansion at its hydrocarbon terminal. The existing Enterprise Hydrocarbon Terminal has two docks, dredging infrastructure and land to expand marine terminaling capabilities. Future plans include constructing at least two deepwater docks capable of accommodating Suezmax vessels, a term used for massive ships that are capable of transiting the Suez Canal.