Nova Chemicals planning $900-million expansion

Nova Chemicals is looking at spending up to $900 million to boost polyethylene production at its Joffre complex by 40 per cent.

Nova Chemicals is looking at spending up to $900 million to boost polyethylene production at its Joffre complex by 40 per cent.

Construction on the project to add a third polyethylene reactor could start in early 2013 with start-up in late 2015 or early the next year, said Nova’s Joffre site manager Rick Van Hemmen in a presentation to Lacombe County council on Thursday.

The four-year project is expected to cost $750 million to $900 million. It would add 430 million to 500 million kg of linear low-density polyethylene production.

It is expected the company will give the project the final green light in May with provincial regulatory approvals to follow sometime early next year. At its peak, 500 construction jobs would be created with an average of 150 to 250 tradespeople on site.

Van Hemmen said the project was driven by Nova’s success in lining up new feedstock sources to make up for declining ethane supplies in Alberta. Deals were struck to obtain ethane from the Williston Basin in North Dakota and ethane and ethylene from an oilsands extraction plan near Fort McMurray.

The new feedstock sources allow Nova to take advantage of unused ethylene capacity on site as well as provide additional ethylene for polyethylene production.

“We have a great opportunity with this new feedstock supply to the site to create growth for the business,” said Van Hemmen, in an interview after his presentation.

Nova is confident that North American demand for polyethylene will continue to grow.

The company’s polyethylene is used for products such as food packaging and storage containers, as well as industrial products like water tanks, chemical storage containers and stretch wrap.

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