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Ethane Storage Hub – Economic Development Opportunities

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On December 2, 2015 Congressman McKinley gained unanimous agreement from the House to amend House Resolution 8 to include an Ethane Storage Study. H.R. 8, was introduced by Congressman Upton (MI-R) and is titled, “North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015”. This resolution discusses the need to modernize energy infrastructure, build a 21st century energy and manufacturing workforce, bolster America’s energy security and diplomacy, and promote energy efficiency and government accountability, etc. This study would be led by the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Commerce to review the feasibility of establishing an ethane storage and distribution hub in the United States. 

Why would Congressman McKinley seek such a study? The answer is that the future of storing and utilizing the abundant domestic natural gas liquids, a significant portion of which is produced in the shale development taking place in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, depends on understanding whether there is merit in creating a storage reservoir and market place for the natural gas liquids (think ethane) for utilization by our domestic manufacturing community. We need to understand whether the predicted supplies of “wet” natural gas (natural gas naturally laden with valuable raw materials used in manufacturing plastics and other petroleum based products) will generate quantities to support both domestic use and export of the valuable liquids. The person in West Virginia who understands this fact from the perspective of a chemical engineer and business leader is Steve Hedrick, President and CEO of MATRIC, located in Charleston, WV. Hedrick is a key West Virginia advocate and resource relative to the vision of a future for regional manufacturing development.

The study would include an examination of potential locations, economic feasibility, economic benefits, geological storage capacity capabilities, above ground storage capabilities, infrastructure needs, and other markets and trading hubs, particularly related to ethane, and identification of potential additional benefits to energy security. The full text of the amendment can be found here.

McKinley’s comments regarding the amendment are recorded in video here. The conclusion he reaches, along with his fellow representatives, is that teaching ourselves to pursue opportunity for our future is an easy vote. A collaborative effort to pursue this study by industry, states, and federal agencies is essential to develop a thorough review.

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