INEOS Intrepid carries first U.S. shale gas to Europe


PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- The INEOS Intrepid, the world’s largest LNG multi gas carrier, left the Marcus Hook terminal near Philadelphia on Wednesday. The vessel is bound for Rafnes in Norway and is carrying 27,500 m3 of U.S. shale gas ethane.

This is the first time that U.S. shale gas has been imported into Europe and gives the continent the chance to benefit from U.S. shale gas economics, which did so much to revitalize manufacturing in the U.S.

The shale gas was cooled to -90ºC (-130ºF) for the journey of 3,800 miles, which should take nine to ten days. U.S. shale gas will complement the reducing gas feed from the North Sea.

The INEOS Intrepid is 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.

“Shale gas economics has revitalized U.S. manufacturing. When U.S. shale gas arrives in Europe, it has the potential to do the same for European manufacturing,” Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and founder of INEOS, said. 

The project has included the long-term chartering of eight Dragon class ships and will create a virtual pipeline across the Atlantic; connection to the new 300 mile Mariner East pipeline from the Marcellus shale in Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook deep water terminal near Philadelphia, with new export facilities and storage tanks.

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 U.S. 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.

“We are nearing the end of a hugely ambitious project that has taken us five years. I am proud of everyone involved in it, and I believe that INEOS is one of very few companies in the world who could have successfully pulled this off,” Ratcliffe added.

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