Americas September 2014 / United States / Industry
BMI View: Strong production growth from the Marcellus and Eagle Ford shale s is creating a surplus of ethane. We see excellent prospects for large volume trade of ethane from the US to European and Asian markets over the coming years.
We see strong potential for growth in the international trade of ethane, driven in particular by the powerful growth of the Marcellus shale in the US. While the shale gas revolution was initially driven by production from drier natural gas plays such as Haynesville and Barnett, the low gas price scenario has prompted far greater growth in liquids rich plays over the last two to three years.
The Marcellus play in particular is high in ethane. An average well produces around 81% methane, 18% ethane and 1% propane. The Eagle Ford play shows similar dynamics with production generally showing 75% methane, 14% ethane and the remainder other natural gas liquids (NGLs) and carbon dioxide. Currently the ethane produced in the US is predominantly used domestically in the petrochemicals sector, though over recent years stocks have risen significantly.
Marcellus Driving Growth
US Shale Gas Output By Major Basin (000cf/d)