|ENTERPRISE PRODUCTS PARTNERS L P filed this Form 10-K on 02/28/2018|
The maximum number of barrels per day that our petrochemical pipelines can transport depends on the operating rates achieved at a given point in time between various segments of each system (e.g., demand levels at each delivery point and the mix of products being transported). As a result, we measure the utilization rates of our petrochemical pipelines in terms of net throughput, which is based on our ownership interest. Total net throughput volumes were 106 MBPD, 121 MBPD and 126 MBPD during the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
The Lou-Tex Propylene pipeline is used to transport CGP from Sorrento, Louisiana to Mont Belvieu, Texas. In June 2015, we announced plans to convert the Lou-Tex Propylene pipeline from CGP to PGP service. This conversion is scheduled for completion in 2020.
In June 2015, we announced plans for the construction of a 63-mile, 10-inch diameter pipeline that would transport RGP between Sorrento and Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. The Sorrento-to-Breaux Bridge RGP Pipeline was completed and placed into service in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Isomerization and related operations
At Mont Belvieu, Texas, we own and operate three isomerization units having an aggregate processing capacity of 116 MBPD that comprise the largest commercial isomerization facility in the U.S. These operations also include a 70-mile pipeline system used to transport high-purity isobutane from Mont Belvieu, Texas to Port Neches, Texas that we own and operate.
The demand for commercial isomerization services depends upon the energy industry’s requirements for isobutane and high-purity isobutane in excess of the isobutane produced through the process of NGL fractionation and refinery operations. Isomerization units convert normal butane feedstock into mixed butane, which is a stream of isobutane and normal butane. DIB units, of which we own and operate nine located at our Mont Belvieu complex, then separate the isobutane from the normal butane. Any remaining unconverted (or residual) normal butane generated by the DIB process is then recirculated through the isomerization process until it has been converted into varying grades of isobutane, including high-purity isobutane. The primary uses of isobutane are for the production of propylene oxide, isooctane, isobutylene and alkylate for motor gasoline. We also use certain of our DIB units to fractionate mixed butanes produced from NGL fractionation activities, from imports and from other sources into isobutane and normal butane. The operating flexibility provided by our multiple standalone DIBs enables us to capture opportunities resulting from fluctuations in demand and prices for different types of butane.
The results of operations from our isomerization business are generally dependent on the volume of normal and mixed butanes processed and the level of toll processing fees charged to customers.
Our isomerization assets provide processing services to meet the needs of third party customers and our other businesses, including our NGL marketing activities and octane enhancement production facility. On a weighted-average basis, the utilization rates of our isomerization facility were approximately 92.2%, 93.1% and 82.8% during the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
In January 2018, we announced plans to expand our butane isomerization facility by up to 30 MBPD of incremental capacity. This expansion is supported by new long-term agreements, including a 20-year, 35 MBPD fee-based, tolling arrangement, to provide butane isomerization, storage and pipeline services.
Octane enhancement and related operations
We own and operate an octane enhancement production facility located in Mont Belvieu, Texas that is designed to produce isobutylene and either isooctane or MTBE. The products produced by this facility are used by refiners in the production of reformulated motor gasoline blends to increase octane values. The high-purity isobutane feedstocks consumed in the production of these products are supplied by our isomerization units.