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Williams Energy Canada start up second offgas processing plant

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Williams Energy Canada (Williams) has announced the startup of its second offgas liquids extraction plant, a key asset in the company’s Canadian midstream and petrochemical complex. The new plant boosts domestic production of petrochemical feedstocks and significantly reduces emissions in the oil sands production process while recovering valuable natural gas liquids (NGLs) and olefins.

Serving an upgrader facility north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the plant is designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by an average of approximately 200 000 tpy and reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a contributor to acid rain, by an average of approximately 2800 tpy.

Williams is the only company extracting and fractionating NGL/olefin mixes from oil sands upgrader offgas. Its first plant of this kind serves the upgrader of another third party oil sands producer. The two plants recover ethane, propane, propylene and other liquids from the upgraders’ offgas streams. Williams then transports, fractionates and markets the products.

“This new offgas plant at the upgrader is helping the environment and creating value from what was previously a low value oil sands resource,” said David Chappell, President, Williams Energy Canada. “It adds to our world class, long life complex of assets with a highly sustainable competitive advantage in a key North American energy hub.”

The plant increases, by 60%, the amount of NGLs produced by Williams in Canada to a total of approximately 40 000 bpd. At peak construction the project employed 1200 workers and more than a dozen permanent staff operate the facility.

Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips, who is also Alberta’s Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office, praised Williams for improving both the environment and the economy. “We applaud Williams Energy Canada for their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, add value to our resources and create good jobs here in Alberta,” said Phillips. “The startup of this plant is a testament to the innovation of Alberta’s energy industry.”

The Fort McKay First Nation, whose traditional land is nearby the new facility, stated, “The Fort McKay First Nation appreciates that the Williams facility is expected to have a positive impact on the local air shed by reducing carbon and sulfur dioxide emissions. This will mean a healthier future for our people and for the environment. We are pleased to support companies that are putting the environment first and are respectful of our traditional lands.”

Following extraction at the upgrader, the NGL/olefins mixture will be transported by Williams’ recently extended Boreal Pipeline to Williams’ expanded Redwater Olefinic Fractionator (ROF), the only olefin/paraffin fractionator in Canada. Most of the propane is expected to feed Williams’ planned propane dehydrogenation (PDH) facility near Edmonton for the manufacturing of polymer grade propylene. As previously announced, a private equity global petrochemical group has executed a long term contract with Williams for 450 000 tpy of the propylene for polypropylene production.

“This developing complex will greatly reduce Canada’s current dependence on polypropylene imports while spurring domestic manufacturing and strengthening the region’s economy,” said Chappell.

Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle

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