Web Date: July 23, 2012
Canadian Firm Williams Plans To Construct Propylene Plant
In what would be a first for Canada, the hydrocarbon-processing firm Williams Cos. is studying the construction of a new propane dehydrogenation plant in Alberta.
The plant would have 1 billion lb per year of capacity and cost between $600 million and $800 million to build. The propane feedstock for the plant will come from oil sands “off-gas” byproducts, which Williams processes at its Redwater, Alberta, facility. Williams is planning 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 liquid off-gases, mostly propane, propylene, butane, and butylene. The company is expanding that facility to also process about 10,000 barrels per day of ethane and ethylene. The natural gas liquids are piped to a Williams facility in Redwater, Alberta, near Edmonton, for further treatment.
A glut in ethane feedstocks 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 coproduct propylene, making the raw material for polypropylene and propylene oxide scarce.
Petrochemical producers are now trying to make up for the shortfall by building propane dehydrogenation plants. Another hydrocarbon processor, Enterprise Products Partners, last month announced plans for a new dehydrogenation plant on the Gulf Coast. Dow Chemical and Formosa Plastics are also planning new dehydrogenation plants.
Separately, Williams is selling the 83.3% stake it owns in an ethylene cracker in Geismar, La., to Williams Partners. Williams owns a 68% interest in Williams partners.
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