Canadian Manufacturing

Major energy player eyes new Alberta plant

The proposed facility could require up to $800 million capital investment

TULSA, Okla.—Energy infrastructure company Williams says it’s considering building a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) facility in Alberta.

The proposed facility would have an annual capacity of one billion pounds and require $600 million to $800 million in capital investment, which Williams said it would cover using cash-on-hand.

The Tulsa, Okla.-based energy firm with market capitalization of $19.43 billion says the new PDH facility would increase polymer-grade propylene production from its Canadian operations.

The propane it recovers at its Redwater facility near Edmonton would be feedstock for the new PDH facility, which would convert the propane into higher-value propylene that will be transported to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The hydrogen by-product would be sold in the Alberta market.

“Because of our existing facilities, we would be able to capture value from PDH production byproducts—butane/butylene and ethane/ethylene—that another PDH operator would have to burn,” said David Chappell, president of Williams Energy Canada. “We’ve built a unique business in Canada and we’re continuing to explore ways to capture more of the off-gas available from existing and planned upgraders, and to add more value to the products we produce.”

Converting oil sands into oil produces an off-gas containing natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGL) and olefins. Williams pioneered the process of extracting this mixture at its Fort McMurray, facility, which is located on-site at a third-party oil-sands production facility.

Williams currently recovers 14,000 barrels per day (bpd) of an NGL/olefins mixture from its facility in Fort McMurray. The mixture includes propane, propylene, butane, butylenes and condensate.

After it extracts the off-gas mixture, Williams returns the clean-burning natural gas to the third-party oil-sands producer and transports the remaining NGL/olefins mixture via its Boreal Pipeline to the Redwater facility outside of Edmonton.

Williams is an energy infrastructure with 15,000 miles of interstate gas pipelines, 1,000 miles of NGL transportation pipelines, and more than 10,000 miles of oil and gas gathering pipelines. The company’s facilities have daily gas processing capacity of 6.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas and NGL production of more than 200,000 barrels per day.

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