RBN Energy: MPLX's expanded plan for piping Marcellus/Utica NGLs and field condensate.
MPLX is wrapping up a three-part, $500 million plan to facilitate the pipeline transport of large volumes of field condensate and natural gasoline from the Marcellus and Utica plays to Midwest refineries, western Canadian heavy-crude shippers and other end users.
But “wrapping up” may be the wrong phrase. In fact, MPLX sees its Cornerstone Pipeline, Utica Build-Out Projects and other elements of the company’s Midwest pipeline push as part of a larger and continuing effort to deal with remaining inefficiencies in the delivery of Marcellus/Utica liquids to market. Today we review what has been accomplished so far, and what expansions and enhancements to MPLX’s pipeline plan may be in the offing.
It would be difficult (if not impossible) to find anyone who has done more than MPLX (a master limited partnership formed by Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) and its MarkWest Energy Partners unit) to address the challenges of increasing volumes of natural gas liquids (NGLs) and field condensate produced in eastern Ohio’s Utica play and the liquids-rich portion of the Marcellus play in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.
As we discussed in our Join Together With Demand Drill Down Report, MarkWest not only developed an extensive portfolio of natural gas processing plants (to separate mixed NGLs from the raw gas stream that emerges at the wellhead) and fractionators (to split mixed NGLs into purity products like ethane, propane, butane and natural gasoline), but also a network of intraregional pipelines to help manage the efficient flow of NGLs — especially ethane, the lightest and most challenging NGL to store and transport.
More recently, in Part 1 and Part 2 of our “1-2-3” blog series, we considered MPLX’s plan to more efficiently transport the heavier end of the NGL barrel (namely, natural gasoline; a.k.a. plant condensate or pentane-plus) and field condensate (a superlight crude oil also known as lease condensate) to end users.