Since early 2014, when the U.S. began exporting ethane by pipeline to Canada, infrastructure additions have facilitated shipments to more destinations including Brazil, India, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, according to a Feb. 5 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S. became the world’s top ethane exporter, surpassing Norway in 2015.
- U.S. ethane exports averaged 260,000 barrels per day through the first 10 months of 2018, from nearly zero in 2013, and reached 10 countries, accounting for about one-sixth of U.S. hydrocarbon gas liquids exports.
- Ethane production grew along with the development of natural gas shale resources, reaching 74 percent, from an average of 1.0 million barrels per day in 2012 to 1.7 million barrels in the 10-month period from January to October 2018; ethane, a key feedstock for petrochemical manufacturing, is separated from raw natural gas at processing plants.
- The greater feedstock availability and lower prices of ethane on the domestic market prompted the petrochemical industry to expand capacity and built new steam crackers, resulting in an estimated $200 billion of new investment.