MarkWest announces Marcellus Shale ethane pipeline plans

Posted June 3, 2010

by Anya Litvak

 Pittsburgh Business Times

MarkWest Energy Partners LPannounced on Wednesday that it will partner with Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics Partners LP to build an ethane distribution system to carry Marcellus Shale gas liquids to markets along the Gulf Coast.

The initiative has been labeled The Mariner Project and is anticipated to begin delivery by the second quarter of 2012.

In partnership with the private equity fund The Energy & Minerals group, Denver-based MarkWest operates MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC, which runs a fractionalization complex in Houston, Pa.

There, gas gathered from Marcellus wells is processed and sent to storage facilities or pipelines.

For the Mariner Project, MarkWest will make some adjustments to its current processing equipment to extract ethane — the main ingredient in ethylene, which is used to make plastics — from the gas stream and send it through a to-be-constructed 45-mile pipeline to Sunoco’s pipeline in Delmont. The ethane will then be piped to the East Coast and go by boat to the Gulf Coast. Some of the natural gas liquid may be piped to markets in the North East.

Initial capacity on the system will be 50,000 barrels of ethane a day, according to the company release. The release did not specify the cost o