Plains Midstream To Expand Stake In Alberta Plants

Inter Pipeline Ltd. announced a deal with Plains Midstream Canada (PMC) that would give PMC a greater ownership stake at two natural gas processing plants in Empress, Alberta. The transaction is slated to be completed in early 2021.

There are three processing plant complexes in Empress—one with multiple natural gas processing plants. These facilities currently have a combined operable capacity to process up to 9.8 bcf/d of natural gas, making Empress North America’s largest natural gas processing center.

The natural gas processing plants at Empress process all gas flowing east out of Alberta. In 2019, the Empress plants processed 4.3 bcf/d of natural gas, separating out 132,000 barrels per day (b/d) of natural gas plant liquids (NGPL), including 68,000 b/d of ethane, and sending out 4.1 bcf/d of dry natural gas.

Natural gas processing at Empress takes place at three sites:

PMC-operated Empress (also known as the Amoco plant), which has three natural gas processing plants, Empress I (2.5 bcf/d capacity), Empress II (2.6 bcf/d capacity) and Empress V (1.1 bcf/d capacity).

– PMC-operated Empress 6 (also known as the Petro-Can site), which has one 2.4 bcf/d processing plant.

– Pembina-operated PanCdn Empress processing plant, which has 1.2 bcf/d of capacity.

Unlike most natural gas processing plants, however, the plants at Empress, and three similar sites elsewhere in Alberta, do not process natural gas delivered from a gathering system. Rather, the facilities, called straddle plants, process natural gas that is already flowing on the Nova Gas Transmission LTD (NGTL) natural gas pipeline system and extract NGPL— primarily ethane — that were not removed at natural gas processing plants in the production areas of Alberta.

From Empress, the processed natural gas then leaves Alberta on either the Foothills SK pipeline, which delivers natural gas into the Northern Border pipeline at Port of Morgan, Montana, or on the Trans Canada Mainline (TCPL Mainline) to eastern Canada, which also serves the U.S. Midwest via the Great Lakes pipeline and other connecting pipelines.

NGPL produced at Empress are moved to market on three other pipelines:

– PMC’s Plains Petroleum Transport Company (PPTC) pipeline, which delivers propane as far east as Winnipeg, Manitoba.

– PMC’s Empress/Kerrobert pipeline, which delivers diluent (natural gasoline) to blend into crude oil at Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, and a propane/butane mix to be shipped on the Enbridge Line 1.

– Pembina’s Alberta Ethane Gathering System (AEGS), which delivers ethane to Alberta’s petrochemical plants.

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