NOVA to soon start cracking Marcellus Shale ethane: CEO

31 October 2013 20:04 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--NOVA Chemicals soon will be cracking ethane from the Marcellus Shale in the northeastern US at its Corunna cracker in eastern Canada, the CEO of the chemical producer said on Thursday.

“We continue to maximise the use of NGL [natural gas liquid] feedstocks up to the limits of our evolving assets base and expect to include Marcellus-sourced ethane in that feed diet within weeks,” said Randy Woelfel, who made his comments during a Q3 earnings conference call.

“Our plan is to increase consumption rates of Marcellus ethane as we move into 2014, and we remain on track to achieve maximum utilisation of Marcellus ethane volumes by the second quarter of next year,” he added.

NOVA has plans to run up to 100% light feeds at the cracker. The Canadian company moved an ethane splitter to the Corunna site in July to help in its move toward predominantly light feeds, Woelfel said.

The Corunna site still cracks some naphtha and will continue to have that capability in the future so as to maximise its flexibility to changing markets, the CEO said.

“I think the message in our industry is having flexibility and adapability throughout the operating and marketing environment,” Woelfel said.

Also, NOVA’s Joffre site in western Canada should be receiving ethane from the Bakken Shale in the northern US by the first quarter of 2014, he said.

The Joffre site will get the ethane via the Vantage pipeline, whose construction “is essentially complete”, Woelfel said.

In 2011, NOVA signed agreements with Hess and Vantage Pipeline to buy and transport ethane production from Hess’s Tioga gas plant in North Dakota.

By Jeremy Pafford