(MENAFN - Trend News Agency) Baku, Azerbaijan, June 4
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
U.S. production of hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs) reached 5 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2018, an increase of more than 0.5 million b/d (13 percent) over 2017 levels,Trendreports citing the US Energy Information Administration.
HGLs accounted for over a quarter of total U.S. petroleum products output in 2018.
The increase in HGL production since 2010 is largely a result of growing domestic natural gas production. In 2018, U.S. natural gas production, measured as gross withdrawals, averaged 101.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), a 38 percent increase over 2010 levels and the highest volume on record. As natural gas production has grown, an increasing share of HGLs are produced at natural gas processing plants, from about 75 percent in 2010 to nearly 90 percent in 2018.
HGLs produced at natural gas processing plants are called natural gas plant liquids (NGPL), which include ethane, propane, normal butane, isobutane, and natural gasoline. A smaller share of HGLs are produced at petroleum refineries, which include refinery olefins and refinery liquefied petroleum gases (LPG). HGL production has been relatively flat at petroleum refineries since 2010, averaging about 630,000 b/d.
Ethane and propane account for two-thirds of HGL production. Ethane production reached 1.71 million b/d in 2018, a 20 percent increase over 2017 levels. Ethane, the lightest NGPL, can (within some limits) be left in the processed natural gas stream at natural gas processing facilities—a process called ethane rejection—or it can be recovered from natural gas if ethane's value is sufficient to cover the additional costs to produce and distribute the ethane to markets.
Demand for ethane in 2018 was driven by increased use in the petrochemical sector, which converts ethane into ethylene for use in the production of plastics, resins, and fibers that go into the production of many consumer goods. Several new petrochemical crackers were commissioned in the United States in 2018.
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