June 2017 - The Appalachian region is
being touted as a potential storage hub, using salt or limestone caverns
to store natural gas liquids (NGLs) and ethane, similar to another U.S.
hub that exists in Mont Belvieu, Texas supplying ethane feedstock for
Houstonís petrochemical industry.
While this Appalachian Storage Hub is a
multi-state approach that gained official support by the governors of
Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia in October 2015 (with Kentucky now
in the mix) one such storage area at the forefront are multiple caverns
in the Salina salt formation, 6,500-feet (1.2 miles) underground in
Monroe County, Ohio, for storing up to 168 million gallons of ethane and
NGLs near the Ohio River.
Looking across the Ohio River from the Blue Racer
plant in West Virginia toward the salt cavern storage area in Monroe
These NGL storage caverns could also
support a giant ethane cracker under serious consideration at Dilles
Bottom, where ethane could be moved through pipelines into the
underground storage caverns. While butane and propane are more commonly
stored in above ground tanks, ethane is more volatile and typically
Above ground storage tanks
Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale ethane
currently moves through pipelines to storage sites at Mont Belvieu and
Sarnia, Canada or is mixed-in with the natural gas stream to be burned.