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EIA: US ethane production set new records again in 2023

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

US ethane production, consumption, and exports established new record highs in 2023, according to data from the EIA's Petroleum Supply Monthly. Continued growth in ethane consumption in the global petrochemical sector and rising ethane recovery associated with natural gas production drove these increases.

US ethane production rose 9% to average 2.6 million bpd in 2023, driven by record natural gas production. In the US, almost all ethane is recovered at natural gas processing plants, which remove ethane and other natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) from raw natural gas. The Texas Inland and New Mexico refining districts, which span the Permian Basin, accounted for 61% of all US ethane production in 2023. Production in those districts averaged 1.6 million bpd in 2023, about the same as in 2022. Production in the Appalachian No. 1 Refining District, which straddles most of the Appalachian Basin production area in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, accounted for 11% of total US ethane production, also nearly the same as in 2022.

Domestic ethane consumption, measured as product supplied, rose 5% in 2023 to 2.1 million bpd. In the US, ethane is consumed almost exclusively in the petrochemical industry as a feedstock. Two new petrochemical crackers, located in Port Arthur, Texas, and in Monaca, Pennsylvania, ramped up operations in 2023 after coming on line in late 2022. Ethane consumption in the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), where most crackers are located, increased 4% from 2022 to 2.0 million bpd. Ethane consumption on the East Coast (PADD 1) more than doubled, averaging 38 000 bpd in 2023, a 22 000 bpd increase from 2022.

US ethane exports averaged a record 471 000 bpd during 2023, a 57 000 bbl increase from the previous record set the year before. Strong ethane exports were driven by growth in global petrochemical sector demand and rising tanker capacity. Low prices for US ethane compared with other feedstocks globally contributed to the record exports. China imported 45% of US ethane exports in 2023, followed by India (16%), Canada (14%), and Norway (10%).

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