Enterprise Products on Thursday announced that the partnership's sixth natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionator at its complex in Mont Belvieu, Texas, is now operational.
Expected capacity of the unit is 85,000 bpd, increasing total fractionation capacity at Enterprise's Mont Belvieu facility to 485,000 bpd.
The sixth fractionator will facilitate the increasing NGL production from domestic shale plays, including the Eagle Ford and other basins in the Rocky Mountain and Mid-continent regions.
Enterprise noted that rising NGL production from the shale plays continues to provide a cost advantage for the US petrochemical industry, which favors natural gas-derived feedstocks over imported crude oil-based derivatives.
The sixth fractionator, which is supported by long-term contracts, will reduce the volumes Enterprise has been diverting to its Louisiana fractionators and accommodate incremental volumes from the partnership's new Yoakum natural gas processing facility in Lavaca County, Texas.
The first two trains of the Yoakum facility have exceeded expectations and are processing 700 million cubic feet/day of inlet natural gas and extracting 90,000 bpd of mixed NGLs, according to the company.
"We are very pleased with the addition of our newest fractionator and proud of the engineering, construction and operating groups who continue to complete these projects in a timely, safe and efficient manner," said Michael A. Creel, CEO of Enterprise's general partner.
"This latest expansion of our Mont Belvieu infrastructure, which was completed on budget and ahead of schedule, offers shippers access to the largest NGL markets to maximize the value of their production and provides end users with reliable sources of domestic feedstock."
A.J. "Jim" Teague, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Enterprise's general partner, added: "Production growth from domestic shale play basins continues to impress and create growth opportunities for Enterprise.
"Fractionators seven and eight are already under construction at Mont Belvieu and are expected to increase total capacity at the facility to approximately 650,000 barrels per day when completed in the fourth quarter of 2013. At that time, our system-wide fractionation capacity is expected to exceed 1 million barrels per day."
Enterprise is also benefiting from the increased demand for propane as a domestic feedstock, in addition to export, according to the company.