Nova Chemicals processing Bakken ethane at Joffre plant

Nova Chemicals Corp. is now processing the first barrels of ethane supplied from natural gas associated with Bakken shale oil production at its ethylene and polyethylene complex in Joffre, near Read Deer, Alta. (OGJ Online, July 1, 2013).

The ethane was produced at Hess Corp.’s Tioga plant in North Dakota and transported across the border into Alberta via the Vantage pipeline, which connects to the Alberta Ethane Gathering System (AEGS) in Empress, Alta., for the final journey to Joffre, the company said.

With an initial design capacity of 40,000 b/d, the Vantage pipeline is expandable to more than 60,000 b/d, a volume that reflects more than 20% of Alberta’s existing installed ethylene production capacity, according to Nova Chemicals, who serves as contract operator of the pipeline and AEGS.

The company said its expects ethane extracted from associated gas produced from Bakken shale to be a growing and stable feedstock supply source for the Alberta petrochemical industry.

“The introduction of Bakken shale-based ethane into the feedstock diet at Joffre marks an important milestone in the diversification of our ethane sources for the region and our Nova 2020 strategy to capitalize on North American demand,” said Todd Karran, acting chief executive and chief financial officer for Nova Chemicals.

Nova 2020 growth strategy

The company earlier in the year announced plans to move forward with the next phase of the Nova 2020 growth strategy, which includes continued capital spending on strategic petrochemicals expansion in Ontario and Alberta based on North America’s increased demand as well as its emerging feedstock opportunities (OGJ Online, Mar. 3, 2014).

“The new supply sources we recently began to use, together with those currently under development, should enable us to run our existing polyethylene plants at full capacity,” Karran said.

The growing feedstock supply sources also will support the company’s Polyethylene 1 plant (PE1) expansion project at Joffre, Karran added.

In 2013, Nova Chemicals let a contract to Technip SA for the Joffre polyethylene project, which includes installation of a 450,000-tonne/year single-train linear low-density polyethylene unit and will expand polyethylene capacity at the site by 40% (OGJ Online, July 1, 2013).

Work on the Joffre PE1 expansion began at yearend 2012, with start-up targeted for early 2016, according to the latest project fact sheet posted on the company’s web site.

In late 2013, Nova Chemicals said it was planning several expansions and upgrades to its existing Canadian operations to take advantage of cost-competitive pricing for North American NGL feedstock, including the ongoing cracker feedstock conversion project at its Corunna, Ont., refinery and petrochemical complex (OGJ Online, Dec. 19, 2013).

Initially targeted for first-quarter 2014 completion, the Corunna conversion project, which is designed to allow the cracker to utilize up to 100% NGLs from growing North American supplies, should be processing 100% NGL feedstock later this summer, the company said in its latest quarterly earnings release on Apr. 30.

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