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Drilling firm prepares to help fuel three crackers

WHEELING, W.Va. — Marcellus and Utica shale ethane is so plentiful that Antero Resources plans to help fuel a total of three cracker plants, including the proposed Odebrecht facility in Wood County and the potential Royal Dutch Shell cracker near Monaca, Pa.

As Denver-based Antero makes commitments for 66,500 barrels per day worth of its ethane production from drilling operations across northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio, the company plans to send 11,500 daily barrels of the petrochemical across the Atlantic Ocean for cracking at the Borealis Stenungsund, Sweden facility.

“We need to take advantage of the significant shift in ethane availability triggered by the U.S. shale gas boom,” Borealis CEO Mark Garrett said of the deal with Antero. “In an increasingly challenging environment in Europe, this is an exciting opportunity to increase the competitiveness of our integrated polyolefins business.”

Earlier this year, Antero announced commitments to send about 30,000 barrels of ethane daily to the facility Brazilian petrochemical giants Odebrecht and Braskem hope to build after closing on a $10.9 million land purchase near Parkersburg. Now, Antero has a separate agreement that would see the company send 25,000 barrels of ethane to the proposed cracker Shell continues considering whether it may build on the Horsehead Corp. property in Monaca, Pa.

Antero is already drilling several successful wells in western Belmont and Monroe counties, while the company has signed deals with the village of Barnesville, the Barnesville Exempted Village School District and numerous individual property owners for drilling in the village. The firm also has a contract to drill on 6,700 acres of property at Piedmont Lake in eastern Ohio, and drills wells throughout northern West Virginia.

Now, Antero has a deal with Borealis to send ethane from the Marcellus and Utica regions via the Sunoco Mariner East pipeline eastward across Pennsylvania to a terminal at Marcus Hook, Pa. Workers there will process the material so it can be shipped via sea vessel to Europe. The first delivery of ethane is planned for late 2016.

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