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Heartland Petrochemical Complex northeast of Edmonton produces first plastic pellets

Click to play video: 'Petrochemical complex north of Edmonton now up and running' Petrochemical complex north of Edmonton now up and running
WATCH ABOVE: A major petrochemical complex north of Edmonton is now up and running. Inter Pipeline began building it four years ago, and as Tom Vernon explains, it has now shipped its first product – Jul 5, 2022

The $4.3-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex, which has been under construction northeast of Edmonton since 2018, has produced its first plastic pellets.

Owner and operator Inter Pipeline Ltd. said Tuesday the newly commissioned facility has been producing test pellets steadily since late June, an important milestone en route to the expected start of full commercial operation sometime this fall.

Read more: Inter Pipeline lands $408-million grant for Heartland Petrochemical Complex

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex will convert Alberta propane into 525,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene beads, an easily transported form of plastic that is used in the manufacturing of a wide range of finished products.

Steven Noble, spokesman for Calgary-based Inter Pipeline, said the facility will be the first integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production facility in North America. He said approximately 70 per cent of Heartland’s total production capacity has been already contracted out to long-term customers.

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“Through the duration of the project’s construction, we’ve seen demand for polypropylene increase significantly … including at one point hitting an all-time record (market price),” Noble said in an interview. “The demand that we initially forecast certainly hasn’t gone away.”

Click to play video: 'Major petrochemical investment announced in Alberta' Major petrochemical investment announced in Alberta
Major petrochemical investment announced in Alberta – Oct 6, 2021

The Heartland facility is being built with the support of a $408-million grant from Alberta’s provincial government. The cash grant, part of an incentive program aimed at growing the province’s petrochemicals sector, is to be paid to Inter Pipeline in equal instalments over three years once the complex is operational.

Read more: Inter Pipeline announces 60% of Heartland plant is contracted amid hostile takeover

Noble said by creating a new market for propane, the Heartland facility is an example of how natural resource development in Alberta is diversifying.

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“The fact that we’re now looking at our raw resources in a different way, and figuring out different ways to get value out of them and create other refined products right here at home … is really the part of the story that everyone here is excited about,” he said.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex is expected to employ 300 people once fully operational.

The polypropylene produced at the facility will be branded as Heartland Polymers.

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