With Propane Exports Rising, Texas Terminal set for Expansion

An oil refinery along the Houston Ship Channel, the same port where Enterprise Products has announced plans to expand its propane export capacity. (image: roger4336 via flickr.com)

This morning, the major midstream propane mover, Enterprise Products, announced plans to bulk up its export operations out of the Port of Houston — a project that comes as the country sends more LPG overseas than ever before.

The expansion aims to almost double the company’s loading capacity for propane and other natural gas liquids (NGLs) to more than 10,000 barrels an hour, with better ability to simultaneously load multiple vessels, the press release says. The work is expected to be complete by the second half of 2012.

Michael Creel, president and CEO at Enterprise, said a growing global thirst for NGLs as an alternative to pricier oil products motivated the project. “Capacity at our NGL export terminal … is sold out for 2011 and virtually sold out for 2012,” he says in the release.

The U.S. exported 138,000 barrels of propane (and its plastic-making sibling, propylene) a day last December, according to the most recent federal data. That set a record for the highest exports in a single month — though the domestic inventory was on its way to dipping below its average range.

Shares of Enterprise (NYSE: EPD) were up 20 cents in morning trading, following the breakfast-time announcement.

Monthly propane exports since 1973 ... or Rorschach test? (image: Energy Information Administration)

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