Issue Date: July 30, 2012 | Web Date: July 26, 2012
Williams Cos. To Build Propylene Plant In Canada
In the latest in a string of potential propylene investments, the hydrocarbon-processing firm Williams Companies is studying the construction of a propane dehydrogenation unit in Alberta.
The plant would have 1 billion lb per year of propylene capacity and cost between $600 million and $800 million to build. The propane feedstock for the plant would come from the off-gases of oil sands. Williams plans to ship the propylene to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
At its facility in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Williams recovers about 14,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids—mostly propane, propylene, butane, and butylene—from off-gases. The natural gas liquids are piped to a facility in Redwater, Alberta, near Edmonton, for further treatment.
A glut in ethane recovered from natural gas shale is causing U.S. petrochemical makers to run more ethane feedstocks through their ethylene crackers, instead of so-called heavier feedstocks such as naphtha. As a result, they are producing less by-product propylene, a raw material for polypropylene, propylene oxide, and other key chemicals.
Petrochemical companies are now trying to make up for the shortfall by building propane dehydrogenation plants. Another hydrocarbon processor, Enterprise Products Partners, announced plans last month for a dehydrogenation plant in Texas. Dow Chemical and Formosa Plastics are also planning dehydrogenation plants on the Gulf Coast.
Separately, Williams is selling the 83.3% stake it owns in an ethylene cracker in Geismar, La., to Williams Partners. Williams Cos. owns a 68% interest in Williams Partners.
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