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October 2, 2019, The Western Producer (Jeremy Simes)
GrainsConnect opens Huxley terminal
   GrainsConnect Canada has officially opened an inland storage terminal in east-central Alberta, helping add capacity to its growing network.
   At full operation, the terminal near Huxley, Alta., will load more than 130 rail cars in less than 14 hours, bringing what the company says will be efficiency and reliability to farmers.
   "Our mission at GrainsConnect Canada is to help the family farm," Warren Stow, company president, said in a news release.
   "We're growers too and we understand the importance and value of a partner. We want to be the area's number one partner."
   The Huxley elevator is GrainsConnect's fourth terminal, joining those in Vegreville, Alta., Reford, Sask., and Maymont, Sask.
   Construction of the Huxley terminal has created employment in the community, the company said, and will have a team ready to help farmers by offering competitive prices and easy-to-understand terms.
   The team includes general manager Chad Dettmer and operations manager Wayne Sharp, as well as merchants Brittany McCook and Darcy Wagstaff.
   "We're proud to contribute to the economic growth in these communities," Stow said in the release.
   "By hiring local merchants and supporting community initiatives where we build, we don't just do business in these communities but truly become part of the family farm."
   Prior to opening, the company said more than 400 farmers and family members toured the facility.
   In addition to the terminals, GrainsConnect, which is owned by Australian grain handler GrainCorp and Japanese co-operative Zen-Noh Grain, plans to build the Fraser Grain Terminal at the Port of Vancouver.
   GrainsConnect and Parrish & Heimbecker have signed an agreement to make the Fraser terminal a 50-50 joint venture. The facility will have capacity to export up to four million tonnes of wheat, barley, oilseeds, pulses and other commodities per year.
Photo: At full operation, the terminal near Huxley, Alta., will load more than 130 rail cars in less than 14 hours,
  bringing what the company says will be efficiency and reliability to farmers. Matt Ramage photo.

August 30, 2018, Red Deer Advocate (Susan Zielinski)
Terminal to load grain bound for
B.C. port and beyond

Paterson Grain terminal welcomes public to grand opening
   Paterson Grain wowed the farming community with its new terminal in Bowden Wednesday.
   Customers, officials, staff and the public were invited to the grand opening of Foothills terminal located off of Hwy 587, about 1.5 km west of Hwy 2.
   Construction of the $25-million facility started in May 2017, and it's Paterson Grain's fourth inland export terminal in Alberta.
   "Buzz from the farming community today was just how massive it was and how excited they are about having such a great facility locally," said Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood, who attended the opening.
   "This is the only inland terminal that we have. There are not that many of them across the Prairies so we're fortunate."
   Wood said in addition to the service it will provide farmers, grain terminals are also an economic driver for a community.
   The high efficiency facility includes a 150-car loop track capable of loading a full unit train in eight hours. It can also store about 2.2 million bushels of grain, ship 75,000 bushels per hour, clean 8,800 bushels per hour, and receive 32 Super B trucks per hour.
   With two independent receiving lanes, the terminal will be able to receive commodities from each driveway without interrupting shipping operations.
   A fully automated truck loop design will allow for fast turn-around for delivering trucks.
   Grain from the Bowden facility will be exported through Paterson's Alliance Grain Terminal in the Port of Vancouver, B.C., to destinations worldwide.
   Shane Paterson, director of trading and transportation with the Winnipeg-based Paterson Grain, said the Bowden terminal will be fully operational in the fall.
   "It's capable of receiving grain today. There's just some work on the railroad track, and the road coming into the facility, yet to be done," Paterson said.
   He said Central Alberta is a great production area with very capable farmers, and highway infrastructure is second to none in the area.
   "Where highways meet rail meet agricultural production is the perfect recipe for a grain elevator."
   There will be jobs for 12 to 18 people at the terminal, depending on how busy it gets.
   Paterson will also hire locally as much as possible, he said.
   Wood said speaking with farmers Wednesday, they are pleasantly surprised with their yields despite drier than normal growing season.
   He anticipates normal to above normal yields.
   "I think it depends on the kind of grain. Wheat will withstand more of a drought than barley. What was really hurt this year was the hay crops and pastures. They require more of a steady rain."
Photo: Paterson Grain held an open house Wednesday at its new terminal near Bowden. Contributed photo.

Mar. 14, 2017, Innisfail Province (Johnnie Bachusky)
Bowden grain terminal a go
Paterson Grain finalizes all necessary agreements
   Paterson Grain is all in for a springtime build in Bowden.
   All the regulatory approvals are done, deals are signed, land is purchased and the shovels will soon be in the ground.
   "We are full steam ahead. All the necessary approvals are now in place with the county, Alberta Transportation, and we're closing the deal on the land purchase," said Shane Paterson, the grain handling company's corporate development officer. "We are anticipating on turning earth there as soon as the ground thaws. As soon as the ground thaws we will start the earthwork operation."
   The Winnipeg-based company's long awaited massive grain terminal project, first announced more than a year ago, is an investment of about $50 million and will take a year to complete. The project will be an ultra-modern 55,000-metric-tonne facility that will include a 3,594-metre loop track to load up to 150 cars in seven hours, a grain handling innovation that Paterson first introduced to the industry. When the Bowden project is completed it will be Paterson's fourth Inland Export Terminal in Alberta, after ones in Gleichen, Dunmore and the newly constructed facility in Daysland.
   "We looked at the whole landscape of the Prairies (for) selecting the next spot for a major investment like this. Bowden was an area we thought there was great production," said Paterson. "There's a great sense of community there that we want to be part of."
   And while the project is good news for Bowden-area farmers it is being hailed as a badly needed boost for the recession-battered local economy.
   "It will be huge, (for) the job opportunities and the general benefits," said Bowden mayor Robb Stuart. "We've worked really well with the county and we've met Paterson a couple of times and they seem pretty straightforward and (have) a track record of being really community-minded.
   "We haven't finalized our budget yet but it looks like we will have a zero per cent tax increase, and no utility rate increase," added Stuart. "I think it should be a good time if people are thinking of looking for an opportunity for employment and to buy into town."
   Paterson said the project during the construction period will employ up to 100 workers at various times, including contract labour and about 30 the company will put directly onto its payroll. Once the terminal is up and running Paterson will initially hire 12 full-time employees, increasing up to 25 as business expands.
   Over the past several months Paterson has been in ongoing discussions with the county, province and landowners to reach agreements on environmental and traffic issues at and near the half-section site at Highway 587 and Rge. Rd. 12 intersection.
   Red Deer County mayor Jim Wood said the rural municipality will take the lead in the tendering and construction of the intersection upgrades and ensure it will be made to the specified standards as dictated by the province. He said a 50-50 cost sharing agreement was reached with Paterson that will see the grain handling company paying up to a maximum of $250,000 for the upgrades.
   To help the company achieve approval agreements with the province on the wetlands issue, Wood said the county made development permit amendments for the grain terminal to move the process along.
   "It worked out very well. We changed some grade levels, and there were various factors that they had to come up with (as) with any development. I heard nothing negative there," said Wood.
   The more than half-section of land Paterson acquired for the project was purchased from private landowners. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
   Paterson said no ground-breaking ceremony is being planned for the start of construction but the company will go out into the community as quickly as possible to build relationships. He said the company's longstanding practice has been to host a grand opening event when citizens can have lunch and tours at the new facility.

Sept. 14, 2016, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
Innisfail grain terminal put on the back burner
   A proposed GrainsConnect Canada terminal near Innisfail is on the back burner.
   In February, the company announced plans for a $30-million handling facility just north of Innisfail at Niobe, where the company already has grain elevators through its ownership of Canada Malting. The 35,000-tonne capacity terminal would offload a 135-car train in 10 hours.
   Construction was to have started in April.
   GrainsConnect president Warren Stow said a decision on whether the Innisfail project goes ahead is likely a year away because the company is focusing on getting two new terminals in Saskatchewan up and running.
   "It's not a lock that we're going there (Innisfail). But it's still high on our radar," said Stow. "There are no real changes other than that Saskatchewan first and then we'll make decisions on Alberta in a year's time."
   Innisfail was only one piece of a $120-million high-throughput grain elevator network that GrainsConnect is building in Western Canada. After Saskatchewan, the company is planning to expand with two new terminals in Alberta.
   Stow said the scheduling is due to a number of factors.
   "I'm not going to get into them publicly. But at the time we make a decision it will be based on economics and what's right for the business."
   GrainsConnect is a joint venture between Australia's GrainCorp Limited and the U.S. arm of Japan-based Zen Noh Grain Corporation.
   GrainsConnect will focus on wheat, barley, canola and peas for destinations in China, Japan and Southeast Asia via the West Coast.
   The first Saskatchewan terminal is expected to be ready by the end of next year and the second will open in mid-2018. It takes about 18 months to build the terminals.
   Meanwhile, Winnipeg-based Paterson Grain is just awaiting the green light from the province before it starts construction on a $25-million export terminal near Bowden.
   "We are ready and intend on moving earth just as soon as all of the final approvals are received," says Shane Paterson, Paterson GlobalFoods Inc. corporate development officer in an email response.
   "We remain bullish about the project and continue to progress it as quickly as we can."
   Paterson's terminal will have 55,000 tonnes of capacity and a high-speed unloading system that can fill 150 rail cars in seven hours.
   Grain from the Bowden facility will be transported to Paterson's Alliance Grain Terminal in the Port of Vancouver to customers worldwide.
   The company also has Alberta facilities in Gleichen, Dunmore and a third facility will open this year in Daysland.

Aug. 23, 2016, Innisfail Province (Johnnie Bachusky)
Niobe grain terminal project in trouble
GrainsConnect Canada redirects focus to Saskatchewan while local plans
put in limbo

   The highly anticipated high-throughput grain terminal planned for Niobe is now in jeopardy of being derailed.
   The $30 to $40 million project, a kilometre north of Innisfail, was announced by GrainsConnect Canada last winter. Construction for the massive inland grain terminal was originally scheduled to start this year, with the project going online in 2017.
   However, GrainsConnect, a new player in the grain handling industry, has put the project "on hold" and Niobe could be bypassed by the company altogether as it moves forward on the building of its first Saskatchewan terminal and looks at other Alberta site options.
   "We are on hold at this point until we sort out some of the agreements around the terminal," said Warren Stow, president of the company, who would not disclose details about the problematic agreement issues. However, Stow added it would be "fair" to say he's not sure if the Niobe grain terminal project will ever go ahead.
   "That's fair. At this point we don't have enough information to give it justice," said Stow. "When we have all the information available we're happy to share it but at this point nothing has been determined, so to say it's not going ahead isn't correct and to say it is going ahead isn't correct."
   Stow's comments caught Jim Wood, the mayor of Red Deer County, completely off guard.
   "I wasn't personally aware of what you were talking about until you just told me," said Wood, who has been an enthusiastic booster of GrainsConnect's ambitious plan for Niobe as it would have injected a significant economic boost to the region. "I am wondering what concerns they have. There is no problem at Red Deer County as far as regulations.
   "If there is a regulation on another level of government, and say if it's the province because I know the province has a lot of tough environmental rules they have changed in the last while, and I know Paterson was struggling somewhat with the provincial requirements on the environment," noted the mayor of the issues Paterson Grain encountered for its proposed terminal in Bowden. "If it is something like that that is their problem, Red Deer County, including myself, will personally do whatever is necessary to lobby to help them overcome any regulatory hurdles they may be experiencing."
   In the meantime, the provincial government has confirmed to the Province that GrainsConnect will have to get approvals from Alberta Environment and Parks in order to move forward on the Niobe project, if the company ultimately decides to do so.
   "Environment and Parks regional staff have spoken with the company's engineering contractors and confirmed that Water Act approvals will be necessary, due to the proposed facility's proximity to a watercourse," said Elyse Nabata, a spokesperson with the provincial ministry who noted the Water Act administers activities that impact Alberta's water resources. "At this point we have not received a Water Act application for this project but look forward to receiving one. Once a complete application is received, approvals are anticipated to take two to four weeks."
   Last December, GrainsConnect Canada, a joint venture between Australia's GrainCorp and Japanese cooperative Zen-Noh, announced it was investing $120 million to construct four grain terminals in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
   The Niobe project along Highway 2A was made public two months later in February, which was soon followed by Paterson Grain's announcement of an even bigger 55,000 metric tonne grain terminal at Bowden, 15 kilometres to the south.
   GrainConnect's project was to cover more than 207 acres west of the current northern wooden Canada Malting Co. elevator, which the company owns, and process up to 35,000 metric tonnes of grain in 10 hours from 10 massive concrete towers. The project was designed to include a 2,652-metre loop rail track from the existing CP rail line.
   However, GrainsConnect Canada has since run into the unspecified "agreements" problems and is now focusing on its two Saskatchewan grain terminal projects, including the new Maymont facility that is identical to the one planned for Niobe. The company hosted a ground-breaking ceremony on July 12. GrainsConnect is announcing its second Saskatchewan location within the next 30 to 60 days.
   "Nobody is more disappointed than I am. We would have liked to go ahead at Niobe first off," said Stow. "We want to make sure we are making good solid economic decisions. We are going to pick locations that make sense, so we are going to take our time (and) not rush into anything.
   "We had the ability to switch on the Saskatchewan locations immediately so that is what we did and we will proceed in Alberta next year," he added.
   In the meantime, Winnipeg-based Paterson Grain, despite the regulatory wetlands issues with Alberta Environment, is "100 per cent" going ahead with its planned Bowden-area grain handling facility at the intersection of Highway 587 and Rge. Rd. 12, said Shane Paterson, the company's corporate development officer.
   "From our perspective things are progressing as good as hoped and we are definitely still hoping to start potentially as soon as September but all of the cards have to fall into the right place for that to happen," said Paterson, adding GrainsConnect's change from its original plans will not alter his company's intentions for the market. "I can't speak to what GrainsConnect is doing or what might have motivated their change in plans.
   "For the farmers there will be less capacity in the region, which is maybe a good thing or a bad thing depending on the year," said Paterson, whose company is currently constructing new grain terminals in Daysland and Bottineau, N.D. Overall, it changes nothing for us."
Photo: GrainsConnect Canada's new high-throughput grain terminal was planned to be placed across the tracks
  from its existing north Canada Malting Co. wooden grain elevator. Those plans are now on hold.
  Photo by Johnnie Bachusky.

March 18, 2016, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
Bowden snares $25M export terminal 
   Agriculture is providing some welcome good news in Central Alberta.
   Winnipeg-based Paterson Grain has just announced its plans to build a $25-million export terminal near Bowden with 55,000 tonnes of capacity and a high-speed unloading system that can empty 150 railcars in seven hours.
   It is the second grain terminal mega-project unveiled in a month. GrainsConnect Canada is proposing to build its own giant grain-handling facility just outside Innisfail with a 35,000-tonne capacity in 10 storage towers and the ability to offload to a 135-car train in 10 hours.
   Shane Paterson, the fourth generation involved in the family-owned company, said the Bowden plans have long been in the works.
   "We've been looking at this site for quite a while," said Paterson, corporate development officer for Paterson GlobalFoods Inc. "It's part of our long-term plans to grow our footprint in Alberta."
   The company also has Alberta facilities in Gleichen, Dunmore and a third facility will open this year in Daysland.
   Central Alberta has a lot going for it, including good transportation infrastructure and a large number of high-calibre producers with quality crops, he said. The terminal will accept all of the area's key crops, including wheat, canola, barley and soybeans.
   Grain from the Bowden facility will be transported to Paterson's Alliance Grain Terminal in the Port of Vancouver to customers worldwide.
   A few regulatory hurdles remain to be cleared, but construction is expected to start soon with an opening date in time for the 2017 harvest.
   About 30 construction jobs will be created with building materials sourced locally. Once open, a dozen to 20 full-time positions will be created depending on how busy the terminal is.
   Paterson said the company already has expansion plans ready to go if demand warrants. Also anticipated is a crop input centre that would sell fertilizer, seed and other agriculture chemicals to its customer base. It will have a staff of six to 10 people.
   Paterson's Grains facility will see more cost-effective steel storage towers instead of the more common concrete versions.
   The company bills itself as the first to use the loop track design to minimize unloading times and which has become the benchmark for all large grain terminals. GrainsConnect also uses the loop track system.
   As well, Paterson will have a dual receiving area to quickly unload grain trucks.
   "We've built our business on efficiency," he said. "No waiting is our goal."
   For area farmers, Paterson provides another outlet for local grain to cut transportation, a significant cost for producers.
   The facilities are expected to provide a little healthy competition among grain handlers and exporters.
   Paterson GlobalFoods Inc. has been around since 1908 and sources, sells and ships high-quality agricultural commodities and food products to more than 118 countries.

Feb. 23, 2016, Innisfail Province (Johnnie Bachusky)
News of Niobe grain terminal earns
big applause

   Mayor Brian Spiller says it will be just like the good old days.
   Innisfail will once again see regular faces from the farm stopping in town for a coffee or to shop after dropping off grain at the massive grain terminal at Niobe, a facility that will open before the harvest of 2017 with a promise to dramatically improve the fortunes of regional farmers, as well as for local merchants.
   "That was back when mom and dad and the kids would come in by a grain truck and they would do a grocery shop while dropping off a load of grain," said Spiller. "It is a little bit different these days. Nowadays when you drive through the landscape of Alberta and Saskatchewan you see these massive inland grain terminals and there is one every 50 or 60 miles instead of an (country) elevator every eight miles. It is nice to get one of those in our general area.
   "There is going to be a lot of grain haulers coming right through our town. They might be stopping for gas or a meal," he added of the future beneficial economic spinoffs for the town. "That will go on for the next 50, 60 or 70 years."
   Last week, Red Deer County approved a development permit application from GrainsConnect Canada Operations Inc. to build the rural municipality's first high throughput grain terminal operation along Highway 2A at Niobe, two kilometres north of Innisfail.
   Construction of the project, expected to cost up to $40 million, will begin this spring and will spread over more than 207 acres and process up to 35,000 metric tonnes of grain in 10. Most importantly it will give an immediate boost for the struggling local economy, as it will provide steady employment to 40 to 50 construction workers, and up to a maximum of 200 when the concrete slip is being poured continuously, 24 hours a day, over a period of up to six weeks.
   "It's great news because anything that happens in Central Alberta, be it in the county or the Town of Innisfail or the Town of Penhold, doesn't stay in those communities," said Spiller.
   "It is like a drop of red dye in the bathtub -- the economic diversity spreads out throughout all the area," he added, noting farmers will save money on gas and trucking costs. "Anything that is good for Red Deer County is going to be good for Innisfail and it is going to be good for Penhold, and that is probably going to expand into the City of Red Deer."
   The news also pleased elected officials in Penhold and Bowden who agreed with Spiller that any economic growth in the region is also good for their communities.
   "Highway 2A is a busy rural road and it's definitely going to get a little busier," said Penhold mayor Dennis Cooper of the main road that goes through his town. "We need the help to move our grains to the market."
   Bowden mayor Robb Stuart said he's hoping the increased capacity of the new Niobe grain terminal will also result in increased transportation along the rail line that goes through his town.
   "Some of the big trains are going through, but 80 per cent of them are still tankers, so hopefully we get a little more expediency in moving the grain or whatever other seed out of Alberta to the ports," said Stuart. "Any economic growth we can get in the region is good."

June 20, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Harley Richards)
Nova settles concerns over
rail yard expansion
   Concerns about the impact of Nova Chemicals Corp. expanding the rail facilities at its Joffre complex appear to have been addressed.
   A March 14 decision by Lacombe County's municipal planning commission to allow the petrochemical company to add new track and rail car storage facilities to the site was upheld by the county's subdivision and development appeal board on Wednesday. The commission's approval had been appealed by a group of nearby landowners, who were worried about increased rail traffic and noise, and a resulting decline in property values.
   The appeal board was told prior to the hearing that Nova and the landowners had reached an agreement on measures that would appease the landowners. These included Nova implementing a noise abatement program with respect to the rail yards, operating the expanded yards outside a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, and reviewing noise levels on an annual basis.
   The appeal board added these measures as conditions to the county's development permit.
   The rail yard expansion is part of a nearly $1-billion project to construct an addition onto to one of Nova's polyethylene plants at Joffre. Scheduled to wrap up by the end of 2015, the work is expected to boost polyethylene production by 40 per cent and rail traffic by 30 per cent.
   Nova previously indicated that it would develop berms and relocate trees to reduce the noise and visual impact of its railyard expansion. It also intends to install shields on high-mast lighting there to minimize the amount of light emanating from the area.
   Speaking after the appeal board hearing, Rick Van Hemmen, Nova's Joffre site leader, expressed satisfaction with the outcome.
   "All of the things that are in the conditions, whether it's the curfew or a noise abatement program for rail or some ongoing monitoring and reporting back to the community, are things that we are very comfortable doing, and that we already committed publicly to doing at our last open house."
   Van Hemmen said Nova's railyards have been operating under a voluntary curfew since 2005. The company was initially unsure it could continue this practice once polyethylene production increases, but is now confident the restricted hours will be manageable -- outside of exceptional circumstances.
   Van Hemmen added that Nova will also work with Canadian National Railway to mitigate noise levels.

Feb. 15, 2013, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)

Rail traffic to jump
Rail yard being added at Nova Chemicals at Joffre
   Rail traffic at the Nova Chemicals complex in Joffre will be boosted by about 30 per cent as part of a proposed polyethylene plant expansion.
   A rail yard with room for 450 cars will be added on the west side of the existing yards, which will also be expanded to make room for almost 100 more cars.
   The additional rail traffic created means Nova will have to drop a self-imposed 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in its rail yards. The curfew was put in place to keep noise down at night.
   Rick Van Hemmen, Nova's Joffre site leader, said the company does not know yet how much extra activity will be created and how much former curfew time will be needed to move rail cars around.
   The company said it is well aware that keeping noise down is important to neighbours and the company will do as much as it can to limit the impact, especially during usual sleeping hours.
   One of the key considerations for choosing the rail yard site was that it is further from neighbouring residents.
   More details on traffic flows and movements in the new yards will come as plans proceed.
   The Nova complex sees about 10,500 hopper cars and 7,500 tank cars a year. About 4,400 to 5,400 more cars will be added after the expansion.
   Van Hemmen was before Lacombe County council on Thursday to discuss rezoning 100 acres of agricultural land to heavy industrial to make way for the rail yards.
   The $30-million project is part of a $750-million to $900-million expansion to a polyethylene plant on site.
   The new polyethylene reactor will produce about 950 million to 1.1 billion pounds of low-density polyethylene a year -- boosting total plant production by about 40 per cent.
   Nova's board is expected to give the project the green light next month and construction would start in the spring for completion by the end of 2015.
   Coun. Rod McDermand, who attended the meeting through teleconferencing, questioned how much of the 100 acres would be taken out of agricultural production when the rail yards are built.
   Van Hemmen said about 20 acres are needed for the yards, but there will also be a little more land put aside to create a larger wetlands area.
   However, if approved, all 100 acres would be zoned industrial and could one day be put to that use, he added.
   Council gave first reading to the rezoning bylaw and set a public hearing for March 14.

Nov. 1, 2011, Red Deer Advocate
Rahr Malting announces $6M expansion
to Alix plant

   Rahr Malting Co. has announced a $6-million addition to its Alix plant.
   The expansion will boost Rahr Malting's storage capacity to 1.2 million bushels of barley, up from 400,000 bushels. That will allow the company to accept more barley from farmers during the year, reducing the risk of grain deteriorating while in producers' hands.
   Rahr Malting president Willie Rahr said increasing the plant's storage is a necessary step before expansion of its malt production capacity can be considered. The Alix plant currently produces 180,000 tonnes of malt annually, with this sold to customers in several countries.
   Federal Agriculture Gerry Ritz was at the Rahr Malting plant on Tuesday for the announcement. He credited his government's efforts to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly power over the marketing of Western Canadian wheat and barley for helping attract capital investment by grain processors.
   If pending legislation passes, prairie farmers will be free to sell their own wheat and barley as of Aug. 1, 2012.
Webmaster Note: The Rahr Alix plant is served by both Canadian National (Three Hills sub) and Canadian Pacific (Lacombe sub) Railways.

April 29, 2011, Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley)
Dow takes on feedstock in
$41 million expansion

Dow Chemical Canada Inc. is planning a $41-million expansion at its
Prentiss polyethylene plant

   The project to be built over two years will see new rail lines added and additional equipment installed to produce new grades of polyethylene using butene as feedstock.
   Construction is expected to begin next month and the first phase will wrap up in October. A second phase will be built between May and October next year.
   Construction will create 25 to 50 temporary jobs this year and 150 to 200 similar jobs next year. Once completed, the expansion is expected to add two to three new contractor positions.
   Otto Parets, production leader at the plant, told Lacombe County's municipal planning commission on Thursday the expansion is the biggest undertaken at the facility since 1999. The upgrade gives Dow greater flexibility in the kinds of feedstock it can process at the plant, about eight km southeast of Lacombe.
   Introducing the new product is part of a business strategy meant to solidify the company's market position in North America and boost value for shareholders.
   The project will see three new rail sidings built on the northern edge of the site, providing room for 85 rail cars to store the small bead-like plastic pellets produced at the complex.
   Three shorter lines will be used to store rail cars full of butene, the feedstock used for the new addition. Another section of track will be built to improve movement of rail cars on the site and a new tank unloading area will be added.
   Among changes proposed by Dow is to go a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week rail car unloading and loading system. Currently, loading and unloading only takes place between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
   Parets said the current system causes a "significant bottleneck" and creates a safety issue as workers try to get all the loading done within curfew limitations.
   Several county councillors questioned company officials closely about how much additional noise would be caused by all-night loading and the coupling and uncoupling of rail cars.
   Dow is still studying the noise issue to ensure any new activity does not exceed Energy Resource Conservation Board regulations.
   Randy Parks, Dow property tax manager, said the company recently bought land nearby from a property owner who had raised noise issues.
   "I think we now have adequate buffer lands," said Parks, adding there are no homes nearby.
   Councillor Brenda Knight asked whether the rail yard expansion will increase the amount of light generated. Dow uses spotlights and lights carried by workers and the operation is not expected to cast off more light, she was told.
   Emissions from the expansion are not expected to be much different than those released now and will fall within existing approved ranges.
   The county's municipal planning commission conditionally approved a development permit on Thursday.
   The project also requires Environment Canada and Alberta Environment approvals.
   Prentiss is home to Dow's polyethylene plant, and two ethylene glycol plants operated by MEGlobal, a joint venture between Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) of Kuwait, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, and The Dow Chemical Company.

March 24, 2010, Red Deer Advocate

Rail link needs rezoning
   Parkland Refining Ltd. wants to rezone nearly 14 acres to build a rail spur to its refinery and tank farm just north of Bowden.
   Red Deer County council granted first reading to a bylaw to adopt a proposed area structure plan necessary to make way for the project to build a rail spur off the nearby Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. line.
   To prepare for the tracks, 14 acres of Parkland-owned land must be rezoned to heavy industrial.
   The project, meant to improve efficiency, will see gasoline and diesel fuel transferred from rail cars on the spur line.
   A pipeline would carry the fuel to the nearby tank farm.
   The county received one letter of concern from an area resident, who was worried about fuel spills, leakage or derailments.
   Parkland told the county that the company and CPR have emergency response plans in case of problems. A new emergency response plan would be in place for the rail spur.
   A public hearing on Parkland's application is expected to take place at Red Deer County Centre next month.
   Parkland Refining is owned by Red Deer-based Parkland Income Fund. The Bowden refinery is operated as a storage and contract processing site.

Nov. 18, 2009, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Joffre's petrochemical plant has had
huge impact

   Thirty years ago, on Oct. 22, 1979, one of the most important industries in Central Alberta's history celebrated the official grand opening.
   It was the world-scale Alberta Gas Ethylene (Novacor) petrochemical plant at Joffre. This massive complex has had an enormous impact on the local, provincial and national economy.
   Work on the plant commenced in July 1976 on a 150-acre site, just south of the hamlet of Joffre. With a projected cost of $375 million, it was easily the largest construction project ever commenced in Central Alberta.
   It was also one of the first steps in a major provincial initiative to diversify the Alberta economy. The provincial government realized that the great oil boom could not last forever and that other industries would have to be developed to ensure future prosperity.
   One of the fastest ways to start diversification would be to encourage the development of a petrochemical industry in the province.
   Such a massive undertaking took an enormous amount of work and planning.
   The Alberta Gas Trunk Line Company, a regulated utility involved in the transmission of natural gas in Alberta, was persuaded to take the lead in the project.
   It created a subsidiary known as Alberta Gas Ethylene that would produce ethylene from ethane feedstock extracted from natural gas. Dow Chemical and Dome Petroleum became partners.
   Dow agreed to purchase all the ethylene produced by the plant for at least 20 years. Dome agreed to purchase all the ethane left over after the production of the ethylene and export it.
   The AGE facility, once completed, was to be the largest ethylene plant in Canada, producing 1.2 billion pounds of ethylene a year. Moreover, it was to be a keystone for the future petrochemical developments.
   The first summer was taken up with the clearing and leveling of the site. Next, the necessary pipelines and foundations were installed. A three-mile spur-line was constructed from the CN rail line at Joffre to help with the moving of machinery and materials to the site.
   A huge work camp, capable of housing up to 800 construction workers, was also erected.
   Because of the booming Alberta economy, it was often a challenge to hire enough labour for the project.
   In order to assist with the project, roads in the area were upgraded and at time rebuilt. A new, much larger bridge was built across the Red Deer River, south of the plant, replacing the East Bridge that had been originally constructed in 1922.
   In the spring of 1977, the first steel structures began to emerge with the construction of eight massive cracking furnaces. A huge fracturing tower was also erected.
   In October 1978, four heavy cranes were used to lift the 250-foot flare stack into position. It was one of the last pieces of heavy construction to be completed. Work then began on the many kilometres of piping and thousands of valves and controls necessary to make the plant operational.
   In the summer of 1979, an orange glow radiated across the countryside as the plant began to gear up for production. People could see the light from as far west as Bentley and as far south as Innisfail.
   To underscore that this massive project was just the first in a number of ones planned, even before the plant was opened in October 1979, AGE announced that it would be building a second world-scale ethylene plant near Joffre, a project that was completed in 1984.
   Meanwhile, the local petrochemical industry got another major boost with the construction of an ethylene glycol plant by Union Carbide at Prentiss in 1984 with a second one being completed in 1994. These are now operated by Dow Canada.
   On Feb. 29, 1996, Novacor Chemicals (the successor to AGE) and Union Carbide jointly announced the construction of a new billion-dollar ethylene plant at Joffre. Union Carbide also announced the construction of a $385 million polyethylene plant next to its ethylene glycol complex at Prentiss.
   Later, the announcements got even more impressive. Amoco announced the construction of a linear alpha olefins (LAO) plant on Novacor's land at Joffre. Novacor also made an announcement that, in partnership with ATCO and Epcor, it would construct one of Canada's largest cogeneration electrical plants.
   Ultimately, the cost of the massive projects would total more than $2 billion. They were to create as many as 4,000 construction jobs. Not only were the plants to be one of Canada's largest industrial projects, they were to turn Joffre/Prentiss area into the largest ethylene/polyethylene complex in the world.
   Moreover, these wonderful developments have helped to make Red Deer and Central Alberta one of the major economic engines of Canada.

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