More good news for Nova

The expansion of Nova Chemicals in Sarnia has been so successful a second pipeline may be needed to bring in more ethane feedstock from the U.S.

Nova wants to use more shale gas from the Marcellus and Utica beds to feed its growing operations in Sarnia, John Hotz, Nova’s vice president of corporate strategy said in Pittsburgh last week.

The company plans to spend between $250 million and $400 million to expand its capacity 20% by 2018.

Nova is engaged in preliminary talks about increasing its pipeline capacity, Hotz said.

And it has signed a letter of intent with a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Energy to develop a new pipeline that would carry Utica shale gas from Ohio through Michigan to Ontario.

That’s good news for the 800 people working at Nova’s three local sites: Corunna, Mooretown and St. Clair. The refinery and petrochemical complex makes ethylene, a building block in plastics used in the manufacturing everything from food packaging to car parts.

Earlier this year it began using Marcellus gas feedstock, which arrives on the Mariner West pipeline from Pennsylvania.

But Nova expects to use its full rate of capacity on that pipeline — 37,000 barrels per day of ethane — in the third quarter of this year, Nova spokesperson Jennifer Nanz confirmed from Pittsburgh.

“Our objective is to ensure there is a diversity of supply,” she said.

Nanz added the conversion to shale gas has been a game-changer for Nova’s operations in Sarnia.

“It has allowed us to really turn things around in that region, and further our commitment and investment in that region, she said.

– George Mathewson