Enterprise to expand ATEX ethane pipeline

Caitlin Cosper
By Caitlin Cosper
For business

The ATEX pipeline will move ethane from natural gas field to southeast Texas.

Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners announced that it plans to proceed with the expansion of a pipeline that will move ethane from natural gas fields in Appalachia to southeast Texas. The company’s processing plants and storage terminals are located in Mont Belvieu, TX.

The Appalachia-to-Texas (ATEX) ethane pipeline will span approximately 1,200 miles from the Marcellus-Utica basin in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to Enterprise’s location in Texas.

A result of an open season period

This announcement comes after Enterprise successfully completed a 30-day open season for those interested in booking capacity on the project. The estimated cost of this massive construction project has not yet been released.

“The success of the open season reflects the demand for additional, reliable ethane takeaway capacity from the Appalachian region of the country,” explains Michael C. “Tug” Hanley, senior vice president of Enterprise.

Currently, the ATEX capacity is approximately 145,000 barrels per day (bpd). However, Enterprise estimates the expansion of the pipeline will boost capacity by more than 30 percent to 190,000 bpd. Enterprise expects to complete the project by 2022.

“The expansion of the ATEX will facilitate growing production from the Marcellus/Utica Basin and will provide access to attractive markets on the Gulf Coast through Enterprise’s integrated midstream network,” Hanley says.

Ethane’s impact on the environment

Ethane is a greenhouse gas, although it is not to be confused with methane, which is much more common and has a greater impact on the environment. While greenhouse gases do contribute to global warming, ethane’s relatively short lifetime (which tends to last a few months) reduces its amount of harm on the environment.

However, ethane and methane tend to originate from the same sources. Methane is a chemical that stems from the burning of fossil fuels, waste, wetlands, and more. Methane’s atmospheric lifetime lasts around 12 years, making it much more harmful to the environment and a lead contributor to the current climate crisis.

Carbon dioxide remains the leading factor in relation to climate change and global warming. Texas currently produces the most carbon dioxide emissions in the country. In 2016, the Lone Star State produced 653.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. For context, that is 80 percent higher than California, the country’s second-largest producer of carbon dioxide.

Increasing resistance against North American pipelines

Across the world, there is a growing movement against pipelines that carry oil and other substances. According to the environmental activist group Greenpeace, pipelines “cut through land, threaten Indigenous and human rights, put drinking water and wildlife at risk, and contribute to climate change.”

Moreover, pipelines continue to pose an environmental threat once constructed. “They’re prone to spills and, as a result, they’re a serious risk to clean water and the wildlife, ecosystems and communities living along their routes,” states the Greenpeace website.

Caitlin Cosper is a writer within the energy and power industry. Born in Georgia, she attended the University of Georgia before earning her master’s in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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