Home heating, plastics, and rubber for tires are all made possible using Natural Gas Liquids (NGL)
Embedded in layers of rock, the natural gas consists of a mixture of liquids, such as methane and propane, which must be separated through a process called fractionation in order to be usable.
Making the most of NGLs
Pembina NGL Corporation is a major Calgary-based oil and gas transportation service provider in Alberta, the province providing the majority of Canada’s NGL – around 70 percent. This means fractionation is a service in demand, and Pembina NGL recently decided to build a second Alberta fractionation facility.
Pembina NGL commissioned Opus Stewart Weir to provide surveying, preliminary engineering, and geotechnical services for the new plant which was to be constructed on a quarter section of crop land near Redwater. The facility had to include a transportation area, offices, 1,250 metres of road, pipeline crossings, and a storm water retention pond.
“The biggest challenge was getting gravity flow on such a flat site,” says Ron Maine, Manager of Industrial Engineering with Opus Stewart Weir. “You need extra grade on the ditches, and the pond has to drain into an adjacent ravine. We developed a 3D design model of grading and drainage, and carried out materials testing and quality assurance to make sure everything would work as planned.”
Opus Stewart Weir also carried out the topographical survey and developed the site plan, enabling the construction of the site’s access road and well pad for the drilling rig. As the walls of the plant sit on piles, the company also conducted geotechnical studies to determine the strength of the bearings.
“Our foundation work on this project has helped the work get started; and helped to make sure the fractionation facility will operate effectively. Our clients will be able to double their operating capacity to 146,000 barrels per day, putting them in a great position to get ahead of Canada’s growing demand for NGL-based products. We are very happy with the outcome.”