Severe thunderstorms knocked out multiple natural gas processing plants near Empress, AB, on Tuesday evening, affecting several Bcf/d of processing capacity and significant production of ethane, propane and other gas liquids. TransCanada PipeLines said six processing plants and related operations lost power and suffered some damage, including plants owned by ConocoPhillips, EnCana, Atco, Inter Pipeline and BP Canada. No injuries were reported in any of the outages.
TransCanada spokesman Kurt Kadatz said there was no impact on pipeline throughput. “We’re seeing that gas just on bypass; Instead of going through the processing plants, it’s just staying on the TransCanada system without being processed. So basically we are transporting gas with higher heating value but there has been no impact on safety, reliability or anything like that. That gas will just be sold at a higher heating value.”
Nova Chemicals, the largest chemical producer in the province, said about half of its total ethane supply in Alberta was lost due to the storm damage. BP Canada reported that the Empress I, Empress II and Empress V straddle plants, which straddle the TransCanada pipeline system, will remain shut down and under a force majeure until damage can be assessed and repaired.
“The shut-in has resulted in an impact on the affected facilities’ ability to receive product from, process, or deliver product to any other facility,” BP Canada said. “While assessing the situation, BP Canada continues to be dedicated to its health, safety and environmental goal of no accidents, no harm to people and no damage to the environment. Periodic updates will be posted on the BP NGL website www.ngl.com.
The straddle plants are located 62 miles northeast of Medicine Hat. They extract natural gas liquids, including ethane, propane, butanes and condensate, from natural gas produced in Alberta.
Inter Pipeline Fund owns 100% of the Empress II plant, which processes 2.6 Bcf/d and produces 40,000 b/d of ethane and 20,000 b/d of propane. It also owns 50% of the Empress V facility, which processes 1.1 Bcf/d of natural gas and produces 17,000 b/d of ethane and 13,000 b/d of propane.
An Inter Pipeline Fund spokeswoman said the Empress V plant is expected to be back up and running by early next week. Empress 2, however, suffered more serious damage and will take two weeks to repair, she said. Both extraction facilities are operated by BP Canada. Inter Pipeline also owns the Bow River crude oil pipeline system in the Empress and Jenner areas, which also was impacted by the storm. The pipeline was restarted and running near its 30,000-35,000 b/d capacity on Thursday.
An EnCana spokeswoman said the EnCana Empress plant, which processes 1.2 Bcf/d of gas, suffered some damage but it has not yet been determined when it will be repaired.
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