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Canada’s Alberta confident of its petrochemistry's prospects, despite the US shale gas boom

April 26/2011

(ICIS) -- The government of Canada’s Alberta province remains confident of its petrochemicals industry's prospects, despite the US shale gas boom which has triggered a wave of new chemical plants across the border. “We still expect the ‘Alberta Advantage’ to continue,” said Tim Markle, a spokesman for the province's energy ministry, Alberta Energy.

Alberta also has the pipeline and transportation infrastructure, which make it a hub for natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) - including the potential for gas from the neighbouring British Columbia province and for gas from Canada’s MacKenzie Valley and Alaska, he said. Meanwhile, the provincial government is “cautiously optimistic” about opportunities from shale gas in western Canada.

Alberta’s ethane extraction plants are running at only about 75% of capacity on average, partly because of the continuing growth of supply of low-cost shale gas in the US  In addition, the Alberta Sedimentary Basin has become mature, Markle said. Maturation means natural gas is more difficult and costly to remove from the ground. In order to boost the province’s ethane production, the government launched the Incremental Ethane Extraction Policy (IEEP) in 2007.

The programme recently was extended to ethane from olefins-rich off-gases generated in the upgrading of oil sands and bitumen in Alberta. The programme’s goal is to bring an additional 65.000-80.000 bbl/day of ethane.

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