Nova Chemicals Corp. has reached mechanical completion on a new reactor that's able to make 1 billion pounds of linear low density polyethylene every year at its site in Joffre, Alberta.
The new reactor increases the Joffre site's annual capacity by 40 percent to a new total of 3.5 billion pounds, officials with Calgary, Alberta-based Nova said in a Sept. 7 news release.
The new volume will produce Novapol-brand butane-based LLDPE resin to help meet growing demand for flexible film products such as food packaging, heavy duty sacks and collation shrink film. Nova's butene LLDPE products offer a balance of physical properties, product uniformity and consistency, and best-in-class gel performance, officials added.
The expansion “is a key component of our growth strategy to support growing polyethylene demand,” PE senior vice president Chris Bezaire said. “As we collaborate with our customers, we are excited to bring updated technology to drive better resins, structures and applications.”
After equipment is tested at the new reactor, production is expected to begin in the fourth quarter. Commercial sales are expected to begin later this year or in early 2017. The project will be the first new LLDPE reactor to start up in the Americas in a decade, according to Nova officials.
Nova and many other regional PE makers are adding capacity in order to take advantage of newfound supplies of natural gas throughout North America. The Braskem Idesa joint venture began production earlier this year at a site in Mexico.
Three U.S. Gulf Coast expansion projects next year from Dow Chemical Co., ExxonMobil Chemical Co. and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. are expected to add around 6 billion pounds of new PE capacity for the region. These expansions far exceed expectations for PE demand growth within the region, so much of it is expected to be sold as export material.