Shale gas from America is now being shipped to China for the very first time – thanks to INEOS. Having already made one journey to deliver ethane to Europe, the new VLEC vessel JS INEOS Marlin left the US with its precious cargo of 85,000m3 liquefied ethane gas in July as it began its 18,900 km journey across the Pacific Ocean to Taixing City in Jiangsu province.
For INEOS, which secured the deal with SP Chemicals, it is the start of an historic project to deliver on what it promised the Singaporean company in November 2017.
"This is another world first," said David Thompson, CEO of INEOS Trading & Shipping. "We are now leading the way in shipping ethane worldwide to meet the needs of an expanding chemicals sector."
INEOS began shipping America’s competitively-priced ethane to Europe in 2015 after creating a virtual pipeline across the Atlantic Ocean. That ground-breaking decision saved the Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Scotland from closure.
Today eight ‘dragon’ ships regularly transport ethane to INEOS' plants in the UK and Norway.
The deal with SP Chemicals required the construction of an even bigger vessel, known as a VLEC (Very Large Ethane Carrier).
“It has approximately three times the cargo capacity of our dragon ships,” said David.
The ship was officially named by Aimee Ratcliffe on May 7 at the Enterprise Products Terminal at Morgon’s Point in Houston.
It will be operated by Jaccar/Evergas and is the first VLEC in the company’s fleet of gas ships.
SP Chemicals, which already operates styrene and VCM production plants, is currently commissioning a new gas cracker, capable of making over 650,000 tonnes of ethylene from the imported ethane every year.
“This is an important milestone for SP Chemicals to achieve self-sufficiency for its ethylene requirements,” said CEO Chan Hian Siang.
Manufacturers use ethylene to make everything from clothing to mobile phones.
INEOS is not concerned about undermining its own competitive advantage in the world by supplying China with cheap raw materials.
“There are several further gas cracker projects being planned in China and it is exciting that INEOS will be the first company to export ethane to China,” said David.
JS INEOS Marlin: The worlds first Type-C 85k VLEC
85,000m3: Liquefied gas capacity
232 metre: Length of carrier
-104°C: Minus 104 degrees Celsius is the temperature necessary to maintain ethane in a liquid state
3x: It has approximately three times the cargo capacity of INEOS dragon ships