Grangemouth chief’s ‘Titanic-scale’ INEOS super-tanker leaves USA carrying first shale gas shipment to EU

The Dragon-class INEOS shale gas supertanker MV Intrepid
The Dragon-class INEOS shale gas super-tanker  MV Intrepid – one of the biggest ships built in the world since the MV Titanic was launched in the Harland & Wolf shipyard in Belfast in 1912.

The INEOS MV Intrepid –  the world’s largest LNG gas supertanker carrier – last night left the Markus Hook terminal near Philadelphia, USA bound for Rafnes in Norway carrying 27,500 million cubic metres of US shale gas ethane.

This is the first time that US shale gas has ever been shipped to Europe and represents the culmination of a long-term strategic investment by INEOS.

To receive the gas, INEOS has also built the largest two ethane gas storage tanks in Europe – at Rafnes in Norway and at Grangemouth, near Edinburgh.

INEOS will use the ethane from US shale gas in its two gas-cracker plants at Rafnes and Grangemouth, both as a fuel and as a feedstock. It is expected that shipments to Grangemouth will start later this year.

The shale gas is cooled to -90ºC (-130ºF) for the journey of 3,800 miles which is expected to take up to 10 days.  US shale gas will complement rapidly-reducing gas supplies from the North Sea.

INEOS’ Dragon-class ethane supertanker carriers – the world’s largest purpose-built ethane multi-gas carriers – have a payload capacity of 27,500 cbm. Each vessel is the length of twa fitba pitches and they could comfortably park 15 BMW-525 model motor cars side-by-side across their main deck.

Ethane is loaded into ships at the Marcus Hook Terminal in Philadelphia, USA. The terminal is an 800-acre site on the banks of the Delaware River – which has been an oil and gas processing site since 1902.

Changing market conditions meant that the refinery shut down in 2012 – but INEOS’s Dragon-class supertankers have meant that the site could be reopened and new dock facilities and storage tanks have been built

 Jim Ratcliffe at the launch of the Ineos Insight Dragon-class shale supertanker in China.
Jim Ratcliffe at the launch of the Ineos Insight another Dragon-class shale supertanker built in China last year.

Last night Jim Ratcliffe, Executive Chairman of INEOS – which owns and operates the Grangemouth petro-chem refinery, which is one of the single-most important cogs in the Scotland’s economic wheel – said: 

“This is an important day for INEOS and Europe. Shale gas has revitalised US manufacturing and for the first time Europe can now access this important energy and raw material source too.

“When US shale gas arrives in Europe, it has the potential to do the same for European manufacturing”. 

“This is the first time that US shale gas has ever been imported into Europe and this – at last  – gives the continent the chance to benefit from US shale gas economics which have done so much to revitalise manufacturing in the USA.”

The  MV Intrepid is one of four specially designed Chinese-built Dragon-class supertankers that forms part of the INEOS fleet of eight of the world’s largest ethane capable carriers. The INEOS Intrepid has “SHALE GAS FOR PROGRESS” emblazoned along its 180-metre length.

Ratcliffe added: “We are nearing the end of a hugely ambitious project that has taken us five years to deliver. I am proud of everyone involved in it and I believe that INEOS is one of very few companies in the world which could have successfully pulled this off. I can’t wait for the INEOS Intrepid to finally get to Norway and complete the job”. 

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