Ethane pipeline from N Dakota to Alberta gets key permit: NOVA

02 August 2013 22:31  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A pipeline that would deliver ethane from North Dakota's Williston basin to NOVA Chemicals's crackers in Alberta received the US presidential permit, a key regulatory milestone, the company's CEO said on Friday.

With that, construction can be completed on the shorter section in the US, said Randy Woelfel, NOVA CEO. Woelfel made his comments during an earnings conference call.

NOVA had struck an agreement with Hess and Vantage Pipeline to buy and transport up to 60,000 bbl/day of ethane from Hess's Tioga gas plant in North Dakota

The pipeline should begin shipping ethane to NOVA in the fourth quarter, Woelfel said.

Meanwhile, NOVA's Alberta plants are a few months away from receiving ethane from oil-sands upgraders in the northern part of Alberta, Woelfel said.

NOVA had reached an agreement with a Williams subsidiary to receive up to 17,000 bbl/day of an ethane and ethylene mix extracted from upgrader off-gas.

"A critical dimension of these new feedstock sources is that they are linked to oil production and, thus, will give us greater diversity of ethane supplies in Alberta," Woelfel said.

The feedstock strategy is intended to reverse dwindling ethane supplies from conventional natural gas production in Canada.

By the end of the year, NOVA should be able to run its polyethylene (PE) plants at full nameplate capacity, Woelfel said.

Meanwhile, at NOVA's Corunna operations in eastern Canada, the company plans to run up to 100% light feeds at its cracker, Woelfel said. Currently, it runs on 20-25% heavy feeds.

As part of that conversion to lighter feeds, NOVA moved an ethane splitter to the Corunna site in July, Woelfel said.

The ethane for the Corunna site will arrive through a pipeline that starts in the northeastern US, home of the Marcellus shale.

Ethane from the Marcellus formation is now filling the pipeline, he said. "We are on track to be the first petrochemical producer to begin cracking Marcellus ethane later this quarter."

NOVA will continue cracking increasing amounts of ethane through the first quarter of 2014, Woelfel said. At that point, the Corunna cracker will be using mostly ethane as a feedstock.

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By: Al Greenwood
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