The US extracts natural gas to meet its domestic energy needs. The majority of this gas is made up of methane but also contains smaller amounts of ethane, butane, and propane. Ethane gas used to be flared at the well head, because it has to be removed from the gas stream for domestic and industrial use. However for the petrochemical industry, this by-product of the gas industry has value, as a feedstock that can be converted into valuable materials, rather than burned.
The US obtains its natural gas from shale. The ethane derived from this is shipped to Europe by INEOS for the manufacture of a range of products that have a benefit to society in their applications.
Ethane is imported into Antwerp by ship. These ships are a new class of gas carrier, the most efficient ever developed. They are also powered by ethane gas and not by heavy fuel oil. Using gas as a fuel eliminates emissions compared to conventional shipping fuels.
An independent study ‘from well to product’, compared the CO2 emissions from the production of ethylene from ethane gas, such as in Project ONE, with the production of ethylene using a component of crude oil (a so-called naphtha installation). The study, which encompassed the process from the source to, storage, transport and production, demonstrates that Project ONE’s ethane-based production emits less than half of the CO2 as compared to the naphtha based alternative.