NPRA ’11: Alberta government prompts ethane expansions

29 March 2011 19:07  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--Alberta has identified additional sources of ethane that could help revitalise the province’s petrochemicals industry, a provincial administration executive said on Tuesday.

Volumes of ethane available from existing straddle plants, which feed the four world-scale crackers in the province have passed their peak. And the province is offering incentives to extract the valuable chemicals feedstock from oil sands processing off-gases and has pinpointed where additional volumes might be made available from existing sources.

The Canadian province's incremental ethane extraction policy includes a C$5.00/bbl ($5.10/bbl, €3.62/bbl) credit available from the provincial government on ethane extracted from oil sand processing off-gases. It offers a credit of C$1.80/bbl on ethane extracted from conventional natural gas and used locally to produce chemicals.

Alberta currently produces 221,000 bbl/day of ethane from conventional natural gas.

Between 20,000 bbl/day and 30,000 bbl/day of additional gas could be extracted from conventional sources. Debbie Pietrusik said on the sidelines of the International Petrochemicals Conference (IPC).

An additional straddle plant on the Alliance pipeline that links Alberta and British Columbia with Illinois in the US could provide a further 60,000-80,000 bbl/day of ethane for chemicals use, she added.

Alberta's NOVA Chemicals has an agreement to take ethane from the Bakken oil field in the US. That will initially bring a further 20,000-30,000 bbl/day to Alberta but the volumes could increase to 60,000 bbl/day.

Bitumen upgrading off-gases have the potential to add 40,000-60,000 bbl/day of C2 [ethylene] plus,” Pietrusik said. 

The prize for Alberta would be the extraction of up to 160,000 bbl/day of ethane supply from oil fields in Alaska. But this development could be 10 years out, she added.

Williams Energy said on Monday it had signed a long-term agreement with NOVA Chemicals to produce up to 17,000 bbl/day of an ethane/ethylene mix from tar sand off-gases for use by the petrochemicals producer.

Williams said it will modify its oil sands off gas extraction plant near Fort McMurray, Alberta, and construct a de-ethanizer at its Redwater natural gas liquids (NGL)/olefins fractionation facility near Edmonton.

($1 = €0.71 = C$0.98)

By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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