Client
Novacor Chemicals Ltd.
Location
Joffre, Alberta, Canada

Linear Low-Density Polyethylene Plant

​Novacor Chemicals Ltd. contracted Fluor to perform engineering, procurement, construction and project management services for its linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) plant. This facility is essentially a grass-roots complex, with ethylene feedstock, natural gas, water (including firewater), nitrogen, hydrogen and sanitary sewage treatment. Novacor's world-scale plant was designed to produce 270,000 metric tons per year of LLDPE.

The new operation uses Union Carbide's licensed UNIPOL Technology. With the UNIPOL process, Novacor will manufacture NOVAPOL LL produced at low pressure in gas-phase, fluidized bed reactors. The main feedstocks required are ethylene, comonomer and a catalyst. Upon completion, the Novacor plant would become Canada's largest polyethylene facility.



Client's Challenge

​The plant is situated on 98 hectares located next to ethylene facilities owned by Alberta Gas Ethylene Company Ltd. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nova). The two adjacent plants will share common utilities, support facilities and services. The ethylene feedstock will be supplied by Alberta Gas.

The high-capacity facilities were designed to produce LLDPE directly into final shipping form. Provisions were designed to produce and handle both granular and pelletized product in a total of 16 grades. High rate bulk loading trucks in 20-metric-ton containers, as well as packaging in boxed and Kraft paper or polyethylene bags, are to be filled on a high-speed bagging line. The bagging line was contained within a large covered warehouse to store bagged or boxed product for 60 days inventory. Fluor was also tasked to build the adjacent rail yard for direct shipment. At the time, the 33-track, 18-kilometer length rail yard was one of the largest in Western Canada.



Fluor's Solution

​Fluor successfully addressed several unique challenges on this project. Complex hydro geological conditions at the site, for example, required innovative soil, pile and foundation design. Fluor used specialized cut-and-fill techniques, including high embankment construction in water-saturated areas. Piles were also designed and installed on soft weathered bedrock under artesian conditions.​

Fluor's scope for the offsites and utilities included the cooling tower, plant and instrument air compression, three substations, two package boilers (30,000 pounds per hour at 100 psig), and raw material rail and unloading facilities. Additional building structures included the control room, laboratory, maintenance facilities and administrative building.

Due to the remote location, Fluor worked closely with the Union locals in Calgary and Edmonton (each located about 100 miles from the site) to hire building trades, with facilities provided.



Conclusion

​In spite of a tight construction schedule, Canada's largest polyethylene facility was mechanically completed on-time, under budget and exceeded client expectations in initial operations.​