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AFPM ’13: NOVA explores Canada ethylene expansions

ICIS News : 25-Mar-13 23:05

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--NOVA Chemicals will explore an expansion of ethylene capacity in eastern and western Canada to take advantage of low-cost shale gas feedstock, a senior executive said on Monday

“If we decide to grow our eastern assets, we then would need additional feedstocks and go back to the Marcellus and Utica [shales],” said Grant Thomson, NOVA president of olefins and feedstocks, on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).

NOVA is in the process of converting its Corunna cracker in eastern Canada to use up to 100% natural gas liquids (NGL) by the end of 2013. It is a flexi-cracker that had processed about 50% heavy feeds and 50% NGL.

“We’ll get ethane supply from the Marcellus – first from July, and then fully up to speed by early 2014,” said Thomson.

NOVA has an agreement with Norway-based Statoil for the latter to supply ethane from the US Marcellus shale to its Corunna cracker.

The Corunna facility has ethylene capacity of 1.8bn lb/year (820,000 tonnes/year), and the ethylene capacity will remain the same immediately after the conversion, said Thomson.

But this will lead to expansion opportunities at Corunna, he noted.

“This conversion will allow us to have relatively inexpensive debottlenecking opportunities as we will use less furnaces,” said Thomson.

“We’ll have extra potential capacity of a couple of furnaces,” he added.

The Corunna site has about 12 furnaces, he noted.

“So the next question is: Do we increase ethylene supply at Corunna, and by how much? Then we can think about options for a new Advanced Sclairtech PE [polyethylene] plant,” Thomson said.

NOVA is in the early stages of planning to build another Advanced Sclairtech PE plant of around 470,000 tonnes/year.

Taking a longer-term view, NOVA and the Alberta government are evaluating if there could be enough NGL supply in the region for another worldscale cracker, said Thomson.

“Looking out in 10 years, if big oil and gas producers are successful in their liquids plays, then this could drive another cracker,” Thomson said.

“Both industry and certainly the government are keen on growing the petrochemical sector. Down the road, strategically this is something we have to think about,” he added.

In addition to ethylene production opportunities, Canada could see a revival in polypropylene (PP) from on-purpose propylene production.

“With Williams building a PDH [propane dehydrogenation] plant in Alberta, there’s the possibility of PP production moving into western Canada,” he said.

However, Thomson emphasised that NOVA’s first priorities are completing its Corunna cracker conversion by the end of 2013 and its 1bn lb/year (450,000 tonnes/year) linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) plant in Joffre, Alberta, Canada, by 2015.

“Beyond 2015, we would look at other major options,” he said.

Canada-based NOVA is owned by Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC).

Hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC continues through Tuesday.

By Joseph Chang
+1 713 525 2653

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