A petrochemical plant recently announced, slated to be in service by 2026, could produce up to 200 metric tons/year of low-carbon blue ammonia and methanol using natural gas from the Montney Shale, officials said.

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Calgary-based Northern Petrochemical Corp. (NPC), a private venture, is proposing to build the C$2.5 billion ($2 billion) project in the planned Greenview Industrial Gateway near Grande Prairie, 275 miles northwest of the Alberta capital in Edmonton. 

“This project will produce blue ammonia and methanol by utilizing the latest carbon capture and storage technologies to achieve a carbon-neutral process,” said NPC President Geoff Bury.

Houston-based KBR Inc. was selected to provide engineering services and a license to use a new manufacturing process devised in partnership with UK petrochemical specialty firm Johnson Matthey.

Blue ammonia is manufactured by synthesizing traditional ammonia using natural gas, with the emissions removed using carbon capture, utilization and storage.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney credited the project site selection to the province’s Alberta Petrochemical Incentive Program (APIP). To make Alberta competitive with the Gulf Coast, where most North American petrochemical projects are sited, APIP pays 12% of plant construction costs.

The project could create up to 4,000 jobs during construction, which may begin in 2023. The project could employ 400 people full time. 

Kenney said the project “is about adding value to natural gas feedstock, in a net-zero emissions context, for products that are in massive demand around the world.”

Production would serve markets overseas, initially traveling about 600 miles by rail to a British Columbia seaport for shipments to China, Japan and South Korea.

“The Greenview Industrial Gateway and the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program are both examples of the right infrastructure in Alberta to create jobs and grow a cleaner energy future,” said Bury. “We believe this project will be a key part of Alberta’s transition to the clean energy future.”

Saudi Arabia Oil Co., better known as Aramco, completed a blue ammonia export pilot last September. Aramco and Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics, in partnership with Saudi Basic Industries Corp., produced and shipped 40 tons of blue ammonia to Japan for use in zero-carbon power production. The supply network demonstration spanned the full value chain, converting hydrocarbons to hydrogen and then to ammonia, as well as capturing carbon dioxide emissions.

Among other companies working on blue ammonia is New Fortress Energy Inc. Earlier this year it formed a company dedicated to producing hydrogen and renewable fuels. A final investment decision on a blue ammonia production terminal is expected soon.