Canada´s Inter Pipeline to complete PDH, polypropylene complex by Sep. 2022; U.S. awards part of strategic oil reserves to lower fuel prices; Canada publishes guidelines for single-use plastic alternatives

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Inter Pipeline´s Heartland Complex near Edmonton, Alberta

Canada´s Inter Pipeline to complete PDH, polypropylene complex by September

Canadian midstream operator Inter Pipeline said on July 5 that its polypropylene plant has started trial production by using feedstock propylene from storage as the PDH plant that will processes propane into propylene (PDH) isn´t scheduled for completion until later this year.

“The PP Plant has been producing pellets since late June with polymer grade propylene (PGP) from our storage cavern. The entire Heartland Complex remains on schedule for an integrated start-up in the third quarter (…) at which point Heartland will begin commercial production,” said Jim Madro, senior vice president for petrochemicals.

The plant has 525,000 tonnes per year capacity of polypropylene. Construction started in 2018.

The company said it has already “70% of the output contracted on a nine-year weighted average.”

Heartland will generate 65% less greenhouse gas than average global polypropylene facilities around the world, Inter Pipeline said.

“The complex is designed to utilize by-products ethane and hydrogen to fuel power production in the cogeneration unit (CUB) to make up approximately 32% of the operation total fuel usage,” it said. This may cut the carbon footprint by 130,000 tonnes, it said.

The design choice that uses air instead of water cooling has a significant impact on the amount of water used at Heartland. When fully in service, the air-cooled complex will use 80% less water than similar size water-cooled operations.

The plant, located near Edmonton in Alberta, is Inter Pipeline´s first venture into plastics. The company, a midstream operator that owns pipelines, was acquired in 2021 by a holding group that invests in companies that provide steady income and are related to transportation.

U.S. awards part of strategic reserves to lower fuel prices

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said on July 11 that it had awarded contracts for the release of some of the U.S. strategic oil reserves (SPR) as “part of (U.S.) President (Joe) Biden’s actions to help protect Americans from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s price hike at the pump.”

The awards are part of the U.S. March announcement of a release of a million barrels of crude oil a day for six months “to address the significant global supply disruption caused by Putin’s war on Ukraine, act as a bridge for domestic production to increase, and help stabilize volatile energy costs,” the statement said. 

A total of 14 companies responded to the notice, submitting 68 bids for crude oil reserves from four SPR sites.

Companies that won the biggest volumes were Valero (10.4 million barrels), Marathon (5.9 million barrels), Motiva (4.2 million barrels) Exxon Mobil (3.8 million barrels), Equinor (3.7 million barrels), Shell (2.5 million barrels) and Phillips 66 (2.2 million barrels).

Crude oil deliveries will take place from each of the SPR storage sites between Aug. 16, 2022 and Sep. 30, the DOE said.  

The SPR is the world's largest supply of emergency crude oil, and the federally owned oil stocks are stored in underground salt caverns at four storage sites in Texas and Louisiana.

The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the world's largest supply of emergency crude oil, according to the DOE.

U.S. road fuel prices spiked in the spring of 2022 leading to talks between President Biden and U.S. refinery owners in June over the causes.

Canada publishes guidelines for single-use plastic alternatives

The Canadian government published in mid-July a “guidance matrix” for businesses and organizations to help them find alternatives to a list of six single-use plastics after confirming in late June a ban on domestic consumption of those items by year´s end.

“Applying the environmentally problematic and value recovery problematic criteria from the Management Framework, the Guidance Matrix” can help find alternatives, it said.

On June 22, 2022, the Government of Canada published the single-use plastics prohibition regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

The regulations “prohibit the manufacture, import, sale and eventually export of 6 categories of single-use plastic (SUP) items. The categories of items are checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws,” it said.

The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) recently said it regretted the government´s decision to ban plastics but said if exports may continue that could allow producers some relief.

The ban was to go into effect at the end of last year but was delayed to allow a transition period.

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