Ports & Terminals

Ethane Producer Announces $72 Billion Export Deal, Plans To Build Beaumont Terminal

American Ethane, a Houston-based ethane producer and exporter, announced plans January 14 to build ethane export terminals on the site of Martin Midstream Partners’ Beaumont, Texas, terminal on the Neches River. Ethane from the terminal would be exported to China.

According to the company, American Ethane has signed binding agreements with three Chinese companies to buy and sell $72 billion of ethane, the largest such agreement in history.

John Houghtaling, CEO of American Ethane, estimated the project would create up to 5,000 construction and production jobs in the United States and more than 1,000 jobs in the Beaumont area.

The announcement from American Ethane said China must still issue permits for the three Chinese companies, but Houghtaling expressed confidence, given that the project has been part of trade negotiations between the Trump administration and that of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

S&B Engineers and Constructors will build the export terminals and will oversee the initial hiring for the job.

“Everything will be dependent on the local workforce,” S&B CEO James Brookshire said. “We don’t want to have to bring in what we would call travelers. We would much rather recruit locally.”

American Ethane said skills pertinent to the terminal construction project will include pipefitters, electricians, cement finishers, iron workers, riggers, equipment operators and other industrial tradesmen.

The announcement last week comes just six months after American Ethane signed a memorandum of understanding with China Merchants Group (CMG), China’s largest state-owned entity, to deliver America-sourced ethane to China. The transportation group, operating under the subsidiary of Nanjing Tanker Corporation, plans to build, own and operate a fleet of Very Large Ethane Carriers to transport up to 7.2 million tons of ethane per year from the United States to China, according to the agreement between American Ethane and CMG.

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