Nova Chemicals Corp. is on track to add 1 billion pounds of new polyethylene resin capacity next year in Ontario.
Officials with Calgary, Alberta-based Nova said in an April 12 news release that its new Advanced Sclairtech technology PE unit in St. Clair Township and an expansion of its steam cracker in Corunna both are 65 percent complete. Both projects will reach full completion by the end of 2022. The first of eight electrical substations also was safely energized in March.
In addition to 1 billion pounds of PE capacity, the cracker expansion, which will provide ethylene feedstock to the new PE unit, will expand the existing site's current ethylene capacity by more than 50 percent. Nova is investing C$2.5 billion (US$2 billion) on the combined projects.
"We're proud to bring Canadian ingenuity to the North American and global marketplace, especially as the plastics and chemicals landscape evolves around the world," President and CEO Luis Sierra said in the release.
He added that Nova "will continue to be an innovator in developing a circular economy for plastics, which includes reducing plastic waste in our environment, by bringing new, premium-value plastics that support sustainable packaging solutions to the marketplace."
According to Sierra, the COVID-19 pandemic and the severe cold weather in February on the U.S. Gulf Coast "have reminded us how Nova's products and geographic locations can provide our customers with security of supply and more choices."
In an interview with Plastics News, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Thayer said that Nova was fortunate to have PE production sites in Ontario and Alberta, and that those sites "were running full-out through the hurricanes and ice storm to help our domestic customers."
Even with those plants running at high rates, Thayer said that "there's more [PE] demand right now than we can supply, and we're excited to see that demand."
Overall, Thayer estimated that Nova's projects in Ontario "were delayed about a year" by COVID-related issues. Coming out of the pandemic, he said that Nova and other PE makers "will need to look at consumer behavior and figure out how the markets have changed."
"We saw a pullback in industrial and commercial demand, but now that's coming back," Thayer added. "I think some behaviors will change, like use of e-commerce, which will drive demand for some types of packaging."
He also said that Nova's new PE capacity in Ontario "will allow us to continue to unleash innovation."
"Our new octene copolymer AST facility will increase the volume of differentiated high-performance resins, provide our customers with supply assurance and introduce an expanded product slate designed to meet the increasing demand for easy-to-recycle products that help shape a better world," he said.
Officials said that Nova is the largest private employer in the Sarnia-Lambton region of Ontario. The firm currently has almost 1,800 workers on-site. The expansions are expected to create around 150 permanent full-time jobs.
"This workforce is building history right before us," Manufacturing Vice President Rob Thompson said. "During unprecedented conditions, everyone involved has worked diligently, adhering to strict government mandated COVID-19 protocols, to safely progress work on these two significant manufacturing projects."
Nova currently has annual production capacity for 1.4 billion pounds of PE, 1.8 billion pounds of ethylene and 250 million pounds of co-products in Ontario. The firm is a major North American supplier of PE and related materials and is wholly owned by Mubadala Investment Co. of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.