Image courtesy of Secl/Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. gas liquids production is expected to continue growing through 2017, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The report, published Tuesday, forecast that U.S. hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL) production will grow from 3.86 million barrels per day in 2015 to 4.33 million bpd in 2017.

HGL products include ethane, propane, butanes and natural gasoline.

HGLs are produced at both natural gas processing plants and petroleum refineries.

Natural gas plants are expected to provide more than 95 percent of the forecast production growth, the report said.

The shale gas and oil boom has also helped boost HGL production at natural gas processing plants, including fractionation facilities.

According to the report, HGL production has grown faster than natural gas production since 2008 thanks to the addition of more capacity.

The EIA’s most recent Short Term Energy Outlook expects HGL production growth to continue outpacing natural gas production growth in 2016 and 2017 as more HGL infrastructure projects are completed.

Ethane production is expected to grow at a faster rate than other HGLs in 2016 and 2017, as “expanded petrochemical and export capacity provides new outlets for supply and allows more ethane to be recovered from raw natural gas,” the report said.

Natural gas plant ethane production is expected to grow by 300,000 bpd between 2015 and 2017, accounting for about two-thirds of total HGL production growth.

The U.S. became a net exporter of natural gasoline in 2008, a net exporter of butane and propane in 2011 and a net exporter of ethane in 2014.

The EIA’s latest STEO projects that net propane exports will grow to 640,000 bpd in 2016 and to 740,000 bpd in 2017 as exports ramp up at two Gulf Coast terminal projects that began operating in the second half of 2015 and another project comes online in the second half of 2016.


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