NOVA Corunna expansion 65 per cent complete, workforce at peak

NOVA Corunna Polyethylene Expansion March 2021 (Photo courtesy of NOVA Chemicals)

NOVA Chemicals $2.5 billion expansion project at its Corunna site is more than 65 per cent complete now.

The Calgary-based company announced in December 2017 that it was building a new polyethylene plant at Rokeby Line and Highway 40 and expanding the Corunna cracker next door.

In an update this week, NOVA said the first of eight electrical substations was energized in March, and the company estimates that full start-up activities for both projects will begin in late 2022.

NOVA Chemicals Vice President of Manufacturing, Rob Thompson said they deferred their Corunna site turnaround by one year.

“And this turnaround deferral is a key enabling event of the project,” said Thompson. “So the start-up for the new facility is targeted for the end of 2022.”

NOVA said there are nearly 1,800 workers on site, representing more than four million hours worked since the projects started.

Thompson said their workforce is building history that will shape the future of the Sarnia-Lambton community for generations to come.

“We are at our peak construction workforce right now, we don’t anticipate a large increase in the numbers of skilled trades that we have on site but we do see a shift in trades towards more of the electrical and instrumentation. 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.”

It’s estimated 150 permanent full-time jobs will be created to operate and maintain the facilities.

The new polyethylene plant will have the capacity to produce about one billion pounds a year with the adjacent cracker expansion providing ethylene feedstock for the new plant. Cracker capacity will be expanded by more than 50 per cent.

“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,” stated Luis Sierra, NOVA Chemicals’ president and CEO. “NOVA Chemicals 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.”

NOVA Chemicals develops and manufactures chemicals and plastic resins for applications such as food packaging, caps & closures and e-commerce packaging. The company has three manufacturing facilities and one corporate office in Sarnia-Lambton. The Corunna site produces 1.8 billion pounds of ethylene and about 250 million pounds of co-products annually. Corunna provides feedstock to the Moore and St. Clair River sites, which convert the ethylene into 1.38 billion pounds of polyethylene.

Ethane, a component of natural gas, is the primary feedstock for ethylene production at Corunna.

-With files from Stephanie Chaves