INEOS confirmed that its vessel, the INEOS Intrepid, has arrived at the INEOS petrochemicals plant at Rafnes in Norway, carrying 27.500m3 of US shale gas ethane. This is the very first time that ethane from US shale gas has ever been exported from the USA and the first time it has been imported into Europe. It gives the continent the chance to benefit from US shale gas economics which did so much to revitalise manufacturing in the USA.
The INEOS Intrepid is currently one of four specially designed Dragon class ships that will form part of a fleet of eight of the world’s largest ethane capable carriers. The INEOS Intrepid has “SHALE GAS FOR PROGRESS” emblazoned along its 180 metre length.
Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman and founder of INEOS says, “Shale gas economics has revitalised US manufacturing, it has the potential to do the same for European manufacturing.”
The project has been complex- involving the design and long term charter of all eight Dragon class ships (which will collectively create a virtual pipeline across the Atlantic), connection of the new 300 mile Mariner East pipeline from the Marcellus shale in Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook deep water terminal near Philadelphia, and the creation of new export facilities and storage tanks.
INEOS has invested $2 billion bringing US shale gas to Europe. To receive the gas, INEOS has built the largest two ethane gas storage tanks in Europe at Rafnes in Norway and Grangemouth in Scotland.
INEOS will use the ethane from US shale gas in its two gas crackers at Rafnes and Grangemouth, both as a fuel and as a feedstock. It is expected that shipments to Grangemouth will start later this year.
Jim Ratcliffe adds, “We are nearing the end of a hugely ambitious project that has taken us five years and cost $2 billion, as we begin supply of ethane from shale to our sites in Europe. This is a world first and I am incredibly proud of everyone involved in it. I believe that INEOS is one of very companies in the world who could have successfully pulled this off. ”