Nova Chemicals plans to expand polyethylene (PE) operations at its Joffre facility near Red Deer and in Sarnia, Ont. Engineering and feasibility studies are expected to be complete in 2012, with start up of new polymer expansion estimated in 2014-17, as per edmontonjournal.com. Nova is by the International Petroleum Investment Co. of Abu Dhabi.
The past few years has seen a shortage of ethane at the Joffre plant, forcing it to import from USA. Over the past few years, Alberta region has seen a decline in ethane volumes, due to deterioration in flows of natural gas through the straddle plants (which extract the ethane from the natural gas). However, ethane supply has not fallen as fast as the decline in natural gas supply and the decline in ethane supply has bottomed out recently. Now Nova Chemicals has sought out alternate sources of ethane to supplement traditional sources, by diversifying to other sources. These new sources are expected to begin sometime in 2012, and allow full utilization of the current polyethylene assets in Joffre. The additional feedstock is a result of recent agreement with Hess Corporation and Mistral Energy for supply of ethane from the Williston Basin (a shale oil play in North Dakota). Nova also recently announced an agreement with Williams for ethane extracted from off-gas from the oilsands. Nova also has a deal tied to an AltaGas plant that will increase Nova’s supply of ethane from natural gas based sources in Alberta.