The Wall Street Journal’s recent report on the Swiss petrochemicals giant Ineos Group Holdings SA’s acceptance of the first American shipment of shale gas to Europe highlighted the Marcus Hook terminal from which it departed.
The ship is carrying a type of natural-gas liquid known as ethane that was extracted from the Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania.
Ethane is a component of natural gas that is separated out and often turned into a liquid for transporting. It is used to make plastics for food and medical packaging, among others.
The shipment is the first seaborne export of ethane to Europe from the U.S., another sign of how the North American shale boom has transformed the global energy map.
The recent ramp-up in U.S. shale oil production has challenged Saudi Arabia’s influence over international oil markets.
The ethane shipment comes as Europe’s leaders have long been hoping that U.S. shale gas would help the bloc reduce its reliance on gas from Russia, which provides approximately a third of the region’s supplies. The ethane from Ineos’s shipment won’t be a substitute for Russian gas, which is mostly methane, but it will help to lower prices in the European market, said Karen Sund, partner at Norway-based Sund Energy consultancy.
“We know that shale-gas economics revitalized U.S. manufacturing, and for the first time Europe can access this important energy and raw material source too,” said Ineos chairman and founder Jim Ratcliffe.
Click here to read more about the Marcus Hook terminal’s role in transporting Marcellus Shale ethane.