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Ethane, the new kid on the long-haul block

We read with interest this month about the advent of ethane shipping. Purpose-built tankers will soon be able to transport large volumes of the natural gas on a long haul basis.

Thus far, ethane – used in everyday life as a natural gas as a refrigerant – must be refrigerated to a low temperature or compressed to a high temperature to be transported in bulk.

Semi-ref gas carriers can currently transport ethane in this way on short-haul routes (usually processed from North Sea gas) around the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

However new ethane carriers on order tie in with the news that the US (Texas to be specific) is looking to export ethane across the world.

This spring, we've learnt that Enterprise Products Partners, an American natural gas and crude oil pipeline company in Houston, Texas, are planning a Texas Gulf Coast ethane export facility.

Word in the shipping press is that Navigator Holdings is investing to build three additional ethylene/ethane capable semi-refrigerated liquefied gas carriers in China for a cool $78.4 million each.

We will be watching the news closely to find out all the updates in this new gas era…

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