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New Chinese dragon tankers to help export US ethane to Europe, India

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Staff writer ▼ | August 22, 2015
Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering Co. unveiled a so-called dragon-class tanker to carry US hydrocarbons to Europe.
Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering
Shipping   The 180-meter long vessels
The 180-meter (591 feet) long vessels will move ethane piped from American shale fields to a Pennsylvania terminal, across the Atlantic to Norway and Scotland, where INEOS Group will process the natural gas liquid into chemicals used to make plastics.

The tankers, the biggest of their kind so far, are the latest link in an energy supply chain bringing abundant hydrocarbons unlocked in recent years from the US to markets as far away as India. The ships wouldn’t have been designed or built if their cargo weren’t so cheap, prompting overseas chemical makers to benefit from low feedstock prices.

Enterprise Products, which is planning a 240,000 bpd ethane terminal on the US Gulf Coast, forecasts the number of very large ethane carriers will increase to 48 by 2017, from just five last year.

Shipyards that may benefit from orders for new vessels include Sinopacific, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and STX Offshore & Shipbuilding.

India’s Reliance Industries last year ordered six very large ethane carriers to transport US supplies. Samsung Heavy Industries. is building the ships that cost about $120 million each and are scheduled to be ready in the fourth quarter of 2016.