The Shale Gas Revolution and the Plastics Industry

Ethane from natural gas deposits is a feedstock for the production of ethylene. The North American shale gas revolution has resulted in a substantial price decrease in ethane which has led to a renaissance in the plastics industry. In “Major milestone for plastics in the shale gas era” we learn that NOVA Chemicals Corporation is using ethane from the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania for the first time in the production of ethylene.

Nova Chemicals Corp. recently became the first plastics company to use ethane from the Marcellus Shale Basin to convert to ethylene.

Nova senior vice president Chris Bezaire gave the story exclusively to Plastics News correspondent Mike Lauzon, saying that the company was – this is how he put it – “introducing our first molecules from Marcellus” to Nova’s Corunna, Ontario, cracker.

Nova has been accepting delivery of ethane from Marcellus deposits in Pennsylvania and storing it in former underground salt caverns under Sarnia, Ontario. Now the company is completing a conversion at Corruna to use exclusively the low-cost ethane in the first quarter of 2014.

New supplies of shale gas have prompted petrochemicals firms to announce ethylene expansions totaling almost 20 billion pounds per year, and propylene projects of almost 9 billion pounds.

Nova is among the companies looking to capitalize. Already, the company is increasing the amount of ethane it uses in its ethylene plant. Corruna will also be expanded by 2018 by about 20 percent, from its current nameplate capacity of about 1.8 billion pounds per year.

Nova also is debottlenecking capacity at its Moore, Ontario, low density polyethylene plant, and retrofitting a high density polyethylene line there. And Nova is building a new linear low density PE plant in Joffre, Alberta, plus it is still planning a technology facility that it expects to have running by 2020.

The entire article can be read here.

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