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Nova, Borealis, Total to form PE/ethylene JV

Nova Chemicals Corp. and Borealis AG are forming a joint venture with Total Petrochemicals that will include a new 1.35 billion pound capacity polyethylene resin unit in Bayport, Texas.

The proposed JV also will include a new 2.2 billion pound capacity ethylene cracker in Port Arthur, Texas, as well as Total's existing 880 million pound capacity PE unit in Bayport, officials said in a March 27 news release.

The proposed new PE unit would make Borealis' Borstar-brand PE resin. The JV is expected to be established in late 2017, pending regulatory approvals. The final investment decision on the Borstar PE unit should be made by that same time. If approved, the ethylene cracker and Borstar PE plant would start production in late 2020.

Officials said that the JV "will create significant synergies by enabling strong integration of the value chain and the first-time use of the proprietary Borstar PE process technology in the Americas."

It also will provide competitive export access to markets outside of North America to help meet growing global demand for PE, they added.

Nova, based in Calgary, Alberta, is owned by the International Petroleum Investment Co. of Abu Dhabi. IPIC also is majority owner of Vienna-based Borealis. Total is a unit of French petrochemicals firm Total SA.

"Working in a JV with NOVA Chemicals and Total on a cost-effective brownfield investment project, integrated with a cracker, is an attractive opportunity," Borealis CEO Mark Garrett said in the release. "We can also leverage our proven technology and benefit from large scale experience gained in other projects and develop the project together with NOVA Chemicals."

Nova president and CEO Todd Karran added that the JV "will complement NOVA Chemicals' existing asset structure in Canada and broaden our PE product slate as [Nova] continues to grow our business in the Americas."

The Nova/Borealis/Total JV joins a growing list of PE expansions on the U.S. Gulf Coast that have resulted from newfound supplies of natural gas feedstock throughout North America. Later this year, expansions from Dow Chemical Co. ExxonMobil Chemical Co. and Chevron Phillips Chemical are expected to add around 6 billion pounds of PE capacity to the market.

In January, Nova also opened a new 1 billion pound capacity line making linear low density PE in Joffre, Alberta.