Interview‘New NOVA’ takes step toward diversifying feedstocks: CEO

07 June 2013 22:30  [Source: ICIS news]

‘New NOVA’ takes step toward diversifying feedstocks: CEO(Clarifies information in the sixth, 10th and 15th paragraphs)

By Jeremy Pafford

HOUSTON (ICIS)--NOVA Chemicals’ groundbreaking ceremony on Friday of a 1bn lb/year (454,000 tonne/year) linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) expansion project in Joffre, Alberta, Canada, was symbolic in many ways, according to CEO Randy Woelfel.

Not only did it mark the beginning of construction on the nearly $1bn (€760m) project, but it also symbolised NOVA's further transformation into a multi-feedstock company.

“I think it’s another tangible confirmation of what we call ‘New NOVA,’” Woelfel said during a telephone interview Friday afternoon.

Construction on the LLDPE expansion should be complete by 2015, with the facility set to come online by the fall of that year, the CEO said.

The expansion will add to the two current production trains about 40% more polyethylene (PE) capacity and will use existing ethylene capacity at the site, NOVA has said.

That ethylene increasingly will be cracked from ethane produced as part of the North American shale gas and oil boom. The Joffre site will get ethane gases associated with oil sands wells, while NOVA’s Corunna, Ontario, site will use ethane from the Marcellus Shale and associated gases from the Bakken Shale to make petrochemicals, Woelfel said.

“We are partly a story of the shale gas boom, but also of the unconventional oil development,” he said.

Woelfel added, “We recognize [the shale boom] as a unique opportunity.”

That opportunity is to make over NOVA into a company akin to an octopus, the CEO said - trying “to have tentacles in the development of a whole range of feedstocks.”

That includes processing shale gas, oil sands, condensates and natural gas liquids (NGLs) to make petrochemicals.

And it soon could include a PE expansion similar to the one under way at Joffre, as NOVA is “progressing” in its exploration of such a plant at Corunna, Woelfel said. A decision could come by the second half of this year, he added.

The Canada-based company, which is owned by Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC), also is weighing its options of expanding to the US Gulf Coast and outside of North America, Woelfel said.

“We’re clearly trying to analyse what is the best opportunity base for us,” he said.

But Friday was about what was best in Joffre for NOVA and the community there.

Some 600 people will be employed during the peak of the construction phase of the LLDPE expansion, with the project creating up to 50 ongoing jobs, the company has said.

Add in the $1bn being spent on the project and “it’s a pretty dramatic positive economic impact,” Woelfel said.

The company also announced the donation of 220 acres of wetlands at the NOVA site to be developed as a public ecological area available for everything from picnics to educational programmes.

Said Woelfel: “It has been just a fantastic day on all levels.”

($1 = €0.76)

By: Jeremy Pafford
+1 713 525 2653

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