Nova Chemicals to begin expansion

Nova Chemicals Corporation announced they are set to begin construction of a $1 billion expansion project

EXPANSION - CEO Randy Woelfel and Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes pour polyethylene pellets produced at the Nova Chemical Facilities during a press conference last week.

EXPANSION - CEO Randy Woelfel and Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes pour polyethylene pellets produced at the Nova Chemical Facilities during a press conference last week.

Nova Chemicals Corporation announced they are set to begin construction of a $1 billion expansion project that will be the first new polyethylene plant opened in Canada since they opened their last sector in 2003.

Partnered with Ledcor, as the lead construction partner to complete the new facility, hopes are high among provincial leaders that it will have a great impact on the economic activity of the region.

“Infrastructure involved here would include a third polyethylene reactor that is the centerpiece of the expansion,” said Randy Woelfel, CEO of Nova Chemical Corporation, at the official launch of the construction project last week.

“We have to take the product from the market in a cost effective, quality way so we are doing things on the packaging side here as well and substantially increasing our rail storage and shipping facilities here and that also represents a significant expansion.”

With hopes of creating up to 600 new job opportunities by 2014 at the facility, the economic benefits will surely be vast, he said.

From commodities purchased to gravel and truck work on the site to restaurants and grocery stores – a large variety of businesses are expected to benefit from the expansion.

Woelfel stated that the expansion is expected to boost plant production from 2.5 billion to 3.5 billion lbs. of polyethylene annually.

In 2008, as oil and gas production peaked and the recession struck North America, Nova Chemicals feared that the supply of ethane to keep the plant running strong was in short supply.

“The outlook looking forward was pretty bleak,” said Woelfel.

The ethane supplies required to produce ethylene and polyethylene fell 12% and continued to slide another 10% by 2010, officials say.

The plant was forced to operate at an 85% capacity that left many wondering what the fate of the plant would be.

With a critical shortage of feedstock to run the plant, Woelfel and his team were forced to look  elsewhere for the products that would keep them running strongly.

Woelfel explained the creativity involved with tapping into these resources and how they hope it will secure their production well beyond 2020 and even 2030.

Nova Chemicals, due to the Alberta government and its incremental ethane extraction policy which provides financial incentives for ethane extraction facilities, hopes to return production to full force by the end of the year and put themselves back on “the biggest growth track we’ve ever seen,” he said.

As part of the expansion, Woelfel also announced that Nova Chemicals will begin construction on a new legacy heritage project for the environment on 200 acres of Nova property to the north of the plant.

“We will be constructing a wetlands trail through the natural environment that we will be expanding and enhancing and leaving behind a legacy for ourselves and the community of an absolutely fantastic place to enjoy nature,” he said.

“The future has never been brighter for Nova and for Central Alberta and you can’t reach a moment like today without vision and tenacity by a lot of hard working people.”

jswan@reddeerexpress.com