Synergy and Shared Infrastructure

In business, location is still everything and Alberta’s industrial Heartland is teeming with opportunity. Home to small, medium and large industrial leaders, the 584 square kilometre area is much more than Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region; it’s an incubator for success.

“This truly is an environment like no other,” explains says NCIA Executive Director Dr. Laurie Danielson. “Not only does it nurture collaborative partnerships, it sparks innovative ideas and pushes companies to explore next level operational solutions.”

While NCIA member companies share a commitment to environmental, socio-economic, and public safety programs, the relationships have continually evolved to reveal natural business synergy. “Increasingly we are seeing opportunities for shared success,” says Danielson. “In some cases its waste streams from day-to-day operations that are finding a new, more productive path, and in others it’s about making clever infrastructure choices so multiple parties can benefit.”

Recognizing the region’s potential, Sherritt’s Metals Refinery was the first facility to break ground in Fort Saskatchewan six decades ago. Stretching over approximately 200 hectares, the site of that original facility is now occupied by Sherritt’s integrated metals-chemicals-fertilizer production facilities; Nutrien’s 1300 t/d ammonia plant and 1200 t/d urea plant; Oerlikon Metco’s advanced materials production facility; and Umicore’s fine cobalt powder production facility.

“Although now owned by four separate public companies based in Ontario, Alberta, Switzerland, and Belgium, these facilities have a shared heritage that has led to collaborative site management,” explains Danielson.

The neighbouring companies share a common water intake and wastewater treatment system, and three of the facilities share other utilities and site management systems, including joint security and emergency response. “The ability to understand each other’s needs and collaborate on many issues has been key,” he says. “And this isn’t a unique situation. There are plenty of examples among our 22 member companies where productive partnerships are making a huge difference.”

Across the region, NCIA members are continuing to make links with neighbouring industrial facilities. The Sturgeon Refinery ships its finished products a short distance via pipeline to Pembina where the infrastructure already exists for truck and rail distribution for markets across Western Canada and beyond.  Shared infrastructure for raw water from the North Saskatchewan River is also helping to reduce industry’s environmental and visual impact along the river’s edge.

“ATCO Energy Solutions has built a multi-user water system in the region that supplies river water to some facilities and Sherritt International and Dow both share the water from their river water intake with other facilities in the region,” explains Danielson.

In addition to synergy around water use, plans are underway for the construction of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL). This 240km pipeline will connect CO2 producers to enhanced oil recovery and storage sites. “Once operational, CO2 will be collected initially from the Sturgeon Refinery and the neighbouring Nutrien Redwater Fertilizer Operations and channeled to depleted oil reservoirs in central Alberta,” he says.

The planned CO2 pipeline will have the capacity for multiple facilities to connect and collect CO2. Moreover, as one of the largest carbon capture and utilization projects ever, this initiative will reduce emissions by 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year. That’s the equivalent of taking 2.6 million cars off the road.

“Like so many of NCIA’s member projects to date, the ACTL represents a commitment to leadership, partnership and the environment,” says Danielson. “It is indeed a great development for our members and our region as a whole.”