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Natural gas processor and distributor, MarkWest Energy Partners LP (MWE - Analyst Report) reported the extension of its previously declared Liberty Ethane Pipeline binding open season to Dec 13, 2013. The open season is for the shippers willing to carry pure ethane from Majorsville to Houston, Pennsylvania.

The partnership expects the pipeline to start operating by fourth-quarter 2013, depending on the response from the open season along with regulators’ approval.  

According to MarkWest Energy, Liberty Ethane Pipeline system will give the shippers an opportunity to access the international ethane markets by carrying purified ethane from the Marcellus Shale formation’s emerging natural gas fields. Moreover, shippers who promise volume trade for a considerable period of time will be offered premium transportation services at attractive rates.   

Denver, Colorado-based MarkWest Energy, a master limited partnership (MLP), is engaged in the gathering, processing and transmission of natural gas, transportation, fractionation and storage of natural gas liquids (NGLs), and the gathering and transportation of crude oil. The partnership is one of the largest processors of natural gas in the Appalachian region and has a significant presence in the other prolific natural gas producing U.S. basins, including the Anadarko, Arkoma, East Texas and Gulf Coast basins.

However, acquisitions have historically played a major role in the partnership’s growth profile and are expected to remain significant. MarkWest Energy may find it difficult to complete accretive transactions in the future, which could negatively impact its growth rate.   

MarkWest Energy currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), which implies that it is expected to perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.

Meanwhile, one can look at better-ranked oil and gas production pipeline partnerships like Enbridge Energy Management LLC (EEQ - Snapshot Report), Magellan Midstream Partners LP (MMP - Analyst Report) and Williams Partners LP (WPZ - Snapshot Report) that offer value. All the partnerships sport a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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