The ongoing renaissance in oil and natural gas production in the United States has provided economic benefits across the country through higher employment and lower energy prices. The growth of production has occurred in regions of the country with significant resources in shale formations, which are unlocked through unconventional production techniques. One such region is Appalachia with the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.
The Appalachian region has experienced near-exponential growth in natural gas production, and that production is expected to increase for decades to come. The natural gas produced in Appalachia contains valuable resources in the form of natural gas liquids (NGLs), including ethane and propane. When separated from the natural gas stream, ethane and propane are key feedstocks for the petrochemical industry to produce compounds for making plastics.
Leaders across the Appalachian region have identified the potential economic opportunity these significant NGL resources present. To contribute to this dialogue, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) created this primer to educate the public on NGLs – what they are, how they are used, recent market developments, and the supporting infrastructure in the region. This document includes the most recent information from DOE and the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Appalachian NGL supply, demand, and infrastructure.