Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Apple Vs Everything Else -- February 5, 2019

On February 2, 2019, I posted the following:
Echo Dot/Alexa: incredible. I don't have "Kindle" yet but I'm tempted. Because of Echo Dot/Alexa, I now have Amazon Music -- another revenue stream for Jeff Bezos. I have had Amazon Prime (another revenue stream) which includes movies and television series (for "free") that will last me a lifetime. Everyone talks about the Apple "ecosystem." Amazon is beating Apple -- and this comes from Apple fanboy #3. If I had one thought on why this is occurring: Jeff Bezos releases products even before they get to the "beta" stage (some hyperbole here, but I'm trying to make a point) whereas Apple won't release anything until it's been vetted well beyond the "sell-by-date." Apple seems terrified of bad press. Best example: even Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg is "beating" Apple/Tim Cook. Everyone knows Facebook knows the privacy / social medial security worries are bogus.  Leonard Cohen wrote about the Apple/Facebook feud years ago. 
Now tonight, over at Macrumors
CIRP estimates that the U.S. installed base of smart speakers reached 66 million units last quarter, suggesting that HomePod sales in the country have totaled around 3.96 million units since the speaker became available to order in January 2018. Apple does not disclose exact HomePod sales figures.

By comparison, the Amazon Echo and Google Home accounted for a commanding 70 percent and 24 percent of the installed base respectively as of last quarter, with both products proving to be popular holiday gifts. 
Look at that percentage for Amazon: 70%. And Amazon does almost no advertising. Amazon is where Apple used to be. With regard to Echo Dot/Alexa, "it just works." No fuss, no muss. $25 and no further fees unless one wants a bit more and then it's just $8.99/month. $25. HomePod? $349.

Yes, I know that the Echo Dot and HomePod are not directly comparable, but on the other hand ....

But Amazon Echo and HomePod are directly comparable. Amazon's new Echo: $99. 

Amazon Echo: 70%

Google Home: 24%

What does that leave Apple? Less than 6%.

I don't think there's any way to recover in the near future. Maybe ever.

HomePod, EchoDot ... all under Tim Cook's watch. Completely missed it. 

Wow, That Didn't Last Long -- Angela Ahrends Departing Apple After Five Years -- February 5, 2019 -- Happy Lunar New Year

Link here.

She probably wants to spend more time with her family.

Deirdre O'Brien, Apple's current "Vice President of People," is set to take Ahrendts' place. O'Brien will be taking on new responsibilities for Apple's retail and online stores in her expanded role as Senior Vice President of Retail and People, reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

During her tenure, Apple shares have seen a devastating drop in value, or so it seems. Perhaps that's just been this past six months.

And as usual, it will be the 207 comments (so far) that will be most interesting.

I do  have to admit the new store layouts are awful. As much as folks joked about the "Genius Bar," at least one knew where to go when one needed help. Not so any more.

API Weekly Crude Oil Draw -- February 5, 2019

From this link. A build of 2.514 million bbls. Note the "fake precision," again. 2,514,000 bbls. Around 450 million bbls in storage. Last week the API reported a build of 2.098 million bbls. More at oilprice.

4,000 / 450,000,000 = 0.000009 or 0.0009%.

4,000 bbls.

A DOT-111 tank car carries upwards of 35,000 gallons (830 bbls).

4,000 / 830 = 5 rail tank cars. Warren Buffett has that many BNSF oil tankers unaccounted for somewhere west of Omaha.

We'll see what the EIA data is tomorrow. Generally, EIA and API data do not agree all that closely.

This Is The REAL Russian Collusion -- While US Congress Dithers -- February 5, 2019


February 6, 2019: OPEC: production has dropped to lowest level since March, 2015 -- Platts survey. Data points:
  • total OPEC production dropped nearly one million bopd from December to January
    • lowest since March, 2015
    • December: 30.86 million bopd
    • January: 29.89 million bopd
  • Saudi Arabia:
    • January, 2019: 10.21 million bopd
    • pledged ceiling: 10.311 million bopd
    • lowest since May, 2018
    • crude oil exports: 7.2 million bopd; down 500,000 bopd
Original Post

Link here to The Wall Street Journal:
Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies are backing a formal partnership with a 10-nation group led by Russia to try to manage the global oil market, according to OPEC officials, in an alliance that would transform the cartel.

There were other stories earlier this week in very respected media outlets that Saudi Arabia and other Mideast princes were literally in the fight of their lives for their very survival. Back in 2014, or thereabouts, a lot of folks said shale would not make up the difference in loss of off-shore CAPEX/production, but, in fact, many off-shore projects were in the works and were expected to come on line by 2020. So, Russia and Saudi Arabia are facing a double whammy by this time next year: the Permian is going to reach its stride; and, all those off-shore projects are going to start coming on line.

Look at the Saudi cash reserves as of October, 2018, at this link.

Now, the most recent data, one year; five year (most relevant, and most stunning); and historical "max."

One year:
Five year:


Most interesting for me will be the 74 comments (so far) at the linked WSJ article. Gist of the comments:
  • no one is worried
  • no one understands why Saudis would do this
Meanwhile,  amount of oil the US imports from Saudi Arabia:

Update On Kashagan -- February 5, 2019

At the bottom of the blog there is a tag for Kashagan.

Today, Eurasianet / oilprice have a very nice update on this oil play. I don't think there was necessarily anything new, but simply an update.

Some data points:
  • sulfurous oil: CPC Blend, a Kazakhstan-specific product
  • one of several crudes coming from the area
    • Tengiz, second-largest oilfield in Kazakhstan, northwester Atyrau region
    • Karachaganak, farther north
    • Filanovsky field, operated by Russia's LUKoil
  • name derives from the pipeline built in 2001; 1,500 km pipeline
  • the Caspian Pipeline Consortium:
    • Transneft (Russia): 31%
    • Kazakhstan state govt: 19%
    • rest of consortium (US, Russia, Italy, UK): 50%
  • Black Sea terminal: Novorossiysk, southern Russia
  • problem: CPC Blen is a light grade of crude with one particularly nasty feature -- contains foul-smelling and corrosive mercaptans
    • mercaptans: rotten egg odor; very, very strong, very, very rotten egg
    • high levels of hydrogen sulfide
    • also, incredibly corrosive to the pipeline that carries it
  • partly because of these mercaptans, bringing Kashagan oil to market was catastrophically late
    • was supposed to have come on line in 2013
    • didn't come on line until 2016
    • finally came on line at cost of almost $6 billion
  • current capacity: 1.45 billion bopd
  • Asia buying more of this oil each year
  • may benefit from Iranian sanctions

MDU Earnings -- 4Q18 And Full Year 2018

MDU press release. Slides here.

MDU shares: essentially flat during trading hours and down minimally after hours, after results released. 

4Q18 earnings: 39 cents reported vs 42 cents forecast over at Yahoo!Finance

From the press release:
  • full year: $1.38/share vs $1.45 previous year (2017)
  • 4Q18: 39 cents vs 59 cents 4Q17
  • four divisions, year-over-year (numbers rounded):
    • construction materials business: $93 million (2018) vs $123 million (2017)
    • construction services, record revenues and earnings: $64 million vs $53 million
    • pipeline and midstream: $29 million vs $21 million
    • regulated energy delivery: $85 million vs $82 million
Apple, Inc

Apple is most valuable company by market cap today, just slightly ahead of Microsoft. This will probably go back and forth for quite some time. Link here.
Apple has once again reclaimed the title of most valuable publicly traded company marking the first time the Cupertino company has held that title since December.
As noted by CNBC, Apple surpassed Microsoft and Amazon this afternoon with a closing price of $174.24, for a market capitalization of $821.59 billion.
Apple's stock has recovered somewhat since its earnings release on January 29 where it reported revenue of $84.31 billion and net quarterly profit of $19.965 billion, or $4.18 per diluted share.
It was Apple's second best quarter ever in terms of revenue and profit, despite the fact that it ultimately ended up being lower than expected due to flagging iPhone sales.

Nine New Permits -- February 5, 2019

Active rigs:

Active Rigs63584042136

Nine new permits:
  • Operators: Kraken, WPX, Liberty Resources, Oasis
  • Fields: Lone Tree Lake (Williams); Eagle Nest (McKenzie); Cottonwood (Mountrail); Baker (McKenzie);
  • Comments:
    • Kraken has permits for a 5-well Coveleski/Ruffing pad in Lone Tree Lake oil field, section 27-157-99;
    • WPX has permits for a two-well White Owl pad in Eagle Nest oil field, section 32-149-94;
    • Liberty Resources has a permit for a Thronson well in Cottonwood oil field, lot 1, section 1-158-92;
    • Oasis has a permit for a Lewis Federal permit in Baker oil field, lot 1, section 31-153-100;
Six permits renewed:
  • BTA Oil (3): three Beaver Creek permits in Billings County
  • Kaiser-Francis (2): an Albert permit and an Agnes permit, both in Stark County;
  • EOG: an Austin permit in Mountrail County 
Two producing wells (DUCs) reported as completed:
  • 34086, 755, Equinor, Sjol 5-8F, Williston, t12/18; cum --
  • 30060, 1,953, Equinor, Banks State 16-21 XE 1TFH, Banks, t12/18; cum 7K after 8 days;
Dry hole:
  • 30187, dry, Oasis, Lewis Federal 5300 11-31 4B, Baker, about 8 miles south of Williston, ND, in McKenzie County, completed 1/19; drilled to a total depth of 10,281 feet in 25 days; a VTD of 10,281' MD was achieved at 10:05 hours CST on  19 December 2018. Due to the inability to remove the BHA from the hole the well will more than likely be plugged and abandoned. [Comment: if it took 25 days to drill to depth, it sounds like they had problems with this well even before this problem.]

Wow, It Never Quits -- Now It's BP Exceeding Financial Expectations -- February 5, 2019

Bloomberg here. Data points:
  • 4Q18: adjusted net income, $3.48 billion vs estimates of $2.64 billion
  • full year: $12.7 billion -- as high as when oil was trading close to $100/bbl 
But look at this:
The better-than-expected earnings should give shareholders some comfort after BP took on more debt to pay for a swath of U.S. shale assets, its biggest deal in 20 years. The company’s facilities were still able to churn out cash even as the oil market turned south late last year.
While higher leverage gives BP less flexibility than its peers should the commodities cycle worsen again, so far prices have rebounded swiftly this year. Its willingness to spend money delivered six major new projects in 2018, increasing oil and gas output 2.4 percent to 3.683 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, the first of several years of forecast growth.
Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment, financial, job, travel, or relationship decisions based on what you read here or think you may have read here. 

In Your Face
Don't Get Mad, Get Even

President Trump nominates former oil lobbyist David Bernhard to lead Department of the Interior.

The Dems are going to wish Ryan Zinke was still around. Pretty funny. Nothing like an oil lobbyist as Secretary of the Interior. Isn't the EPA part of the Department of the Interior? Teddy Roosevelt must be rolling over in his grave.

The Book Page

From Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, James Gleick, c. 1992.

In 1963, physicists were still debating the concept of "time."  Twenty-two physicists, cosmologists, mathematicians, and others attended the Cornell conference. A philosopher, Adoph Grünbaum, argues that the usual notion of the forward flow of time was merely an illusion, a "pseudoconception."

From page 123:
Grünbaum: I want to say that there is a difference between a conscious thing and an unconscious thing.
Feynman: What is that difference?
Grünbaum: Well, I don't have more precise words in which to say this, but I would not be worried if a computer is unemployed. If a human being is unemployed, I would worry about the sorrows which that human being experiences in virtue of conceptualized self-awareness.
Feynman: Are dogs conscious?
Grünbaum: Well, yes, It is going to be a question of degree. But I wonder whether they have conceptualized awareness.
Feynman: Are cockroaches conscious?
Grünbaum: Well, I don't know about the nervous system of the cockroach.
Feynman: Well, they don't suffer from unemployment.
Even my 94-year dad would have laughed at that. 

The Kraken Wells

These are spectacular wells for Epping:

  • 34807, see below, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 4H,
DateOil RunsMCF Sold
  • 34796, see below, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 9TFH,  
DateOil RunsMCF Sold
  • 34795, see below, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 8H,  
DateOil RunsMCF Sold
  • 34793, see below, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 6H:
DateOil RunsMCF Sold
  The wells:
  • 34810, 2,154, Kraken Operating, The Kraken LW 13-24 1TFH, Epping, t11/18; cum 288K 10/19; 48K in one month; cum 423K 7/21;
  • 34809, 1,684, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 2H, Epping, t11/18; cum 194K 10/19; cum 314K 7/21;
  • 34808, 828, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 3TFH, Epping, t11/18; cum 159K 10/19; cum 230K 7/21;
  • 34807, 1,423, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 4H, Epping, t11/18; cum 243K 10/19; cum 313K 7/21;
  • 34806, 929, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 5TFH, Epping, t11/18; cum 183K 10/19; cum 249K 7/21;
  • 34798, 1,023, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 1TFH, Brooklyn, t10/18; cum 191K 10/19; 33K in one month; cum 239K 7/21;
  • 34797, 1,253, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 10H, Epping, t10/18; cum 194K 10/19; cum 244K 7/21;
  • 34796, 1,566, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 9TFH, Epping, t10/18; cum 140K 10/19; cum 174K 7/21;
  • 34795, 1,139, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 8H, Epping, t10/18; cum 270K 10/19; cum 357K 7/21;
  • 34794, 550, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 7TFH, Epping, t10/18; cum 149K 10/19; cum 198K 7/21;
  • 34793, 616, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 6H, Epping, t10/18; cum 205K 101/9; cum 261K 7/21;
The graphics:

Epping Oil Field -- February 5, 2019

I've been updating Epping oil field the last few days. For more on these Kraken wells, see this post.

Absolutely amazing. A lot is going on in Epping oil field. I never thought much about Epping until a reader suggested I take a look. Compare the wells drilled back in 2012 to the wells that are being drilled now.

These are  spectacular wells for Epping:
  • 34807, conf, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 4H,
DateOil RunsMCF Sold
  • 34796, conf, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 9TFH,  
DateOil RunsMCF Sold
  • 34795, conf, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 8H,  
DateOil RunsMCF Sold
  • 34793, conf, Kraken Operating, The Kraken 24-13 6H:
DateOil RunsMCF Sold

This well has gone over 400,000 bbls cumulative:
  • 20507, 827, Whiting/KOG/BTA, 20711 Swanson 3328 1H, Bakken, Epping, t10/12; cum 398K 12/18;
Hard Drugs, SUSTO

February 5, 2019, T+34, Day 11 Of Open Border Negotiations; SOTU Address This Evening -- Nothing About The Bakken

Tesla, Polar Vortex: not ready for prime time.
  • From Quartz: not everyone lives in California -- Tesla Model 3 owners are griping about frozen door handles.
  • From ZeroHedge: the winter is wreaking havoc on electric vehicle batteries. 
Fortunately in North Dakota, there are two seasons: winter and August.

From the second linked article:
If there’s one thing electric vehicle owners are learning, it is that extremely cold temperatures are likely going to lead to frustration if they don’t take extra special care of their battery powered vehicles. Look at it as just another added benefit to "saving the world".

As we push through the cold that automakers are using as an excuse for poor sales this winter, customers of some companies – notably Tesla – are starting to realize that things are a little bit different with electric vehicles in the winter.

Disgruntled owners of Model 3s have been widespread on social media and online forums, talking about numerous issues they’ve had with cold weather on their vehicles. People have complained about battery range draining and Model 3 door handles freezing up.
The Book Page

The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, published in 1973. Three volumes. I only have the first volume.

I "read" the first volume last night. I closely read the first 100 pages or so, but then skimmed through the rest.

The "arrest" -- which covers about the first fifty pages -- sounds exactly like the "arrest" of Roger Stone by the FBI last week. No hyperbole. I'm talking about the actual moment of arrest as described by Solzhenitsyn. I'm not talking about the events after the arrest. An apologist for the FBI's actions at this link.

Gulag Archipelago. Where to begin?

Lots Of Rambling And Nothing About The Bakken. If You Came Here For The Bakken, Scroll Up, Down, Or To The Right -- February 5, 2019

North Texas weather: temperature almost hit a record high yesterday. Eighty degrees; the record was 82 degrees. This morning, 0-dark-thirty, very, very warm, muggy; I spent ten seconds wiping the moisture off the car windows. Yes, I didn't bike into work. I am doing a lot of driving in the morning taking the granddaughters to school. 

Global warming: if this is AGW, bring it on. Beautiful, beautiful weather.

By the way: 0-dark-thirty -- driving into work this morning, wow, I had flashbacks of being in Germany thirty-six years ago, driving my BMW out to flight squadron operations, taking the brief, then "stepping" to the F-15 for an early morning flight. It was always foggy in the morning in Germany. The brief was at 0-dark-thirty, but by the time we launched, it was always a beautiful, beautiful day. I vividly remember a typical day -- my wife never knew -- I would leave in the morning; step; air combat mission (ACM) over the north channel; lunch at an RAF base in southeastern England; then another ACM on the way back to Germany; low-level over the Eifel (region of Germany, not the tower), and then back to base; and, home in time for dinner. Those were the days. This is quite amazing: Bitburg AB, Germany, 1981, in the video below. I was stationed at Bitburg, Germany, from 1983 - 1986 and then again from 1989 - 1991. The video is pretty cheesy but it's very, very accurate.

From the video:
I am proud of this documentary. The story was recorded in Bitburg Germany with one of our frontline F-15 units. In its time, it was seen as very experimental. Being with the real folks. Exploring their relationships with others. Yes, it has a Cold War ring to it. But it was made in 1981, the height of the Cold War. The people we filmed were wonderfully cooperative once they trusted us. Unfortunately, I didn't keep up with what happened to them and where they are today. But I did get the chance to fly an F-15. One of the thrills of my life.
HOLY MACKEREL! At 4:39 in the video above -- it's Greg "Claw" Clasen.  I flew with him multiple times. My most memorable fight was a night refueling flight. He took me to 50,000 feet. Eerily quiet.

Technology: today's technology is absolutely incredible. If Google, Facebook (which I don't use), Apple, Amazon are spying on me, let it be. Yesterday, driving our oldest granddaughter from one regularly scheduled weekly appointment to another, I plugged in the iPhone to get directions and (with a bit of hyperbole, but not much), google maps (I don't use Apple maps) automatically loaded our next destination -- I guess "remembering" where I had been one week ago at the same time.

Let It Be, the Beatles

Echo dot/Alexa: still incredible. Our daughter, who now has a longer commute, and who got us the Echo dot for a Christmas present, has signed up for the "all-Alexa-all-the-time" package -- or whatever it's called. Works on any device, at home, in the car, out and about. I guess it's not Alexa per se but Amazon music. So, she has "Amazon-music-everywhere." I have the home Alexa music package. Whatever. 

Super what? TheNew England Patriots are an old, old team -- the quarterback is 41 years old. Going into Super What, Belichick ("Beli-what" -- can you still say that word, "chick"?), Brady, and the coaching staff sat down two weeks ago to discuss their strategy. Purloined audio transcripts, that you will only see here:
Unidentified voice A: "I'm an old man. I'm 41. I can't play a full four quarters. They'll kill me."
Unidentified voice B: [mumble -- indecipherable]
A: "It's indoors. Deflated balls won't make a difference."
B: [mumble -- indecipherable]
Unidentified voice C: "Goff -- man, how young is he -- will run all over us by the end of the first quarter ..."
B: [mumble -- indecipherable]
C: "... so, this is what we do ...."
A: "Well, whatever we do, remember, I'm an old man ..."
C: "We slow-roll the Rams. We play really, really slow in the first three quarters. Make sure we don't get behind. No touchdowns. A few missed field goal tries. Lull the Rams into thinking we're too old to be playing this game. Brady takes three snaps, short throws -- save that arm -- quick release -- no sacks -- and then punt. Three snaps, punt, three snaps, punt. Repeat."
B: [mumble -- indecipherable]
C: "Brady's, like, on the field for a total of eight minutes in the first three quarters, twenty-three snaps; a couple of nice catches by Edelman to keep the Rams in a fog..."
A: "Just eight minutes. I can do that."
C: "Then, four minutes into the fourth quarter, Brady puts together his usual spectacular touchdown drive ... four plays -- that's it. It's over. Rams will never recover."
A: "Slow roll them for three and a half quarters. I sort of just phone it in. No deflated balls; no eavesdropping on their huddles; no wiretaps in their locker room; just slow roll them for three and a half quarters. I love it."
B: [mumble -- indecipherable]
A: "It's going to be a really, really boring game."
C: "This is not about entertainment -- that's what the ads and the half-time show are for ... this is about winning number six.
B: [mumble -- indecipherable]
The market: this might be a dead-cat bounce but if it is, it has certainly gone on for quite some time. The low was Christmas Eve, 2018. Ever since, it's been on a tear. Up 20% or something like. The other day, Saturday, on one of those commercial money programs on the radio, the "experts" were telling folks how to invest. They said they were now recommending "all cash." They said that all their money was in cash. They had sold everything, expecting a big correction. So these folks, putting their story today, sold (and recommended to listeners to sell) at the absolutely low -- after Christmas Even -- and have now been in cash since, and this is what they've missed:

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment, financial, job, travel, or relationship decisions on anything you read here or think you may have read here.

Super What / Market: by the way, I haven't seen anyone bring up the "Super Bowl" indicator -- perhaps because the game was so boring. Whatever. The Patriots losing? The "Super Bowl" indicator says that the market will be down for the year. We won't know for ten more months.

February 5, 2019 -- Number Of Active Rigs Trending Down In North Dakota

How desperate is Europe for imported oil? This headline says it all -- over at oilprice -- EU considers more sanctions on Venezuela, but no embargo on Venezuela oil. And, of course, Germany is now dependent on natural gas from Putin's Russia.
Back to the Bakken

Five wells coming off the confidential list today -- Tuesday, February 5, 2019: 23 wells for the month; 125 wells for the quarter
  • 35197, drl, Hess, CA-E Burdick-LE-155-95-2017H-1, Capa, no production data,
  • 34350, SI/NC, XTO, Walton Federal 41X-19C, Bear Den, no production data,
  • 34248, SI/NC, BR, Raider 1C UTFH, Twin Valley, no production data,
  • 34046, SI/NC, MRO, Two Bar 34-35H, Bailey, no production data,
  • 33099, IA/conf, CLR, Sakakawea Federal 3-19H1, Elm Tree, producing, 
Active rigs:

Active Rigs63584042136

RBN Energy: overseas demand expansions key to US ethane export growth.
The U.S. started exporting ethane by ship less than three years ago, first out of Energy Transfer’s Marcus Hook terminal near Philadelphia and then from Enterprise Products Partners’ Morgan’s Point facility along the Houston Ship Channel. Good news for NGL producers, right? Well yes, sort of. Because while waterborne export volumes rose through 2016, 2017 and the first seven months of last year, they’ve been flat-to-declining ever since, with further ethane-export growth hampered primarily by a lack of international demand. That demand may soon be ratcheting up — mostly in China, but also in Europe — but it won’t happen overnight. Today, we discuss ethane export trends, the Morgan’s Point and Marcus Hook marine facilities, and plans for new ethane export capacity tied directly to new overseas ethane crackers.
U.S. NGL production, NGL fractionation, and the market for NGL purity products (ethane, propane, normal butane, isobutane and natural gasoline) have been frequent topics in the RBN blogosphere the past few months. The production of mixed NGLs (aka y-grade) soaring, fractionators at the NGL hub in Mont Belvieu, TX — and elsewhere in Texas and in Louisiana — are running at or near capacity, and a scramble is on to build new fractionation capacity. A while back we looked at what caused most purity-product prices to dive in October and November (one factor was the sharp decline in crude oil prices). And, in a four-part series we examined rising U.S. exports of propane and normal butane — the two purity products generally referred to as LPG — and the LPG export facilities in place and being planned to handle those rising volumes.
Today, we shift to ethane exports and ethane export terminals. As regular readers of our blogs know, ethane is unique in that it can either be (1) extracted from y-grade (through fractionation) like its purity-product brethren and sold to petrochemical plants, where it is “cracked” to produce ethylene; or (2) “rejected” into the natural gas stream at the gas processing plant and sold (at the price of gas) for its Btu value. Which of these routes any particular molecule of ethane takes depends on a number of things — for example, the price of natural gas versus the price of purity ethane; demand for ethane from ethylene plants (also known as steam crackers), and the availability of NGL pipeline capacity between the production area and fractionation hubs. But, overall, the run-up in U.S. NGL production during the Shale Era spurred the development of a number of new U.S. steam crackers (most of them along the Gulf Coast) and interest from overseas steam crackers in exporting U.S.-sourced ethane to their facilities.
There are currently five ways to export ethane from the U.S.: via three ethane-only pipelines to Canada, and two U.S. marine terminals capable of loading ethane onto ships. The three pipelines are Pembina’s 68-Mb/d Vantage Pipeline, which runs from the Bakken to Empress, AB; Energy Transfer’s 50-Mb/d Mariner West pipeline from the Marcellus/Utica to Sarnia, ON; and Kinder Morgan’s Utopia pipeline  from the Marcellus/Utica to Windsor, ON. The two existing ethane export terminals — the focus of today’s blog — are Energy Transfer’s Marcus Hook Industrial Complex near Philadelphia (orange pentagon in Figure 1), and Enterprise Products Partners’ Morgan’s Point Ethane Export Terminal near the entrance to the Houston Ship Channel.