By July 12, 2017 Read More →

Alberta petrochemical demand for Western Canadian, US ethane at an all-time high


Sturgeon Refinery, petrochemical joint venture between North West Refining and CNRL.

Alberta’s four petrochemical plants have total ethylene-producing capacity of 4.1 million tonnes per year

Ethane is a natural gas liquid obtained as a by-product of natural gas processing and oil refining, according to a National Energy Board press release.

Ethane is also the primary input for producing ethylene, a petrochemical used to manufacture plastics and other industrial and consumer products.

Ethane demand in western Canada is driven by the petrochemical production facilities located in Alberta, and this reached an estimated all-time high of 280 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d) during the first quarter of 2017.


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This growing Alberta demand has been met through a combination of increased domestic production and imports from the U.S. Western Canadian ethane production has increased since 2012 because of growing unconventional, liquids-rich gas production in Alberta and British Columbia.

Oil sands off-gas ethane extraction has also increased. Oil sands off-gas is a mixture of hydrogen and light hydrocarbon gases produced when bitumen is upgraded to produce synthetic crude oil.

With regard to imports, the Vantage pipeline began shipping ethane from North Dakota to Alberta in 2014. Flows on Vantage have averaged 22 Mb/d since 2015.

Alberta’s four petrochemical plants have a total ethylene-producing capacity of 4.1 million tonnes per year. One of these plants is located in Fort Saskatchewan.

The other three are located in Joffre and combine to form the world’s second largest ethylene complex.

Together, these four Alberta plants account for almost 80 per cent of Canada’s total installed ethylene-producing capacity, with the remaining 20 per cent located near Sarnia, Ontario.


Posted in: Canada

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