Simonette gas plant upset led to Alliance mainline closure, Keyera says

Complications resulting from an operational upset at Keyera Corp.’s Simonette gas plant, located 57 miles southwest of Valleyview, Alta., have caused Alliance Pipeline LP to declare a force majeure along the mainline system of its 3,848-km (2,391-mile) integrated Canadian and US natural gas transmission pipeline (OGJ Online, Aug. 7, 2015).

The brief operational issue, which occurred on Aug. 5 during maintenance activities at the Simonette plant, resulted in an entrance of gas containing hydrogen sulfide into Alliance’s mainline pipeline, Keyera and Alliance said in separate releases.

To mitigate the situation, Alliance has started a series of activities to safely remove the contaminated gas from the line, which until completed, will result in a zero-flow condition on the system, according to the pipeline operator.

These mitigation efforts, which will continue for an indeterminate amount of time, were due to impact commercial stakeholders beginning mid-morning on Aug. 7, Alliance said.

As part of the mitigation plan, Alliance will flare impacted gas volumes from inside the line within the confines of the operator’s Alameda compressor station in Saskatchewan, the company said.

Keyera said it is working with gas producers that use the Simonette plant to divert and find alternative solutions for their production until Alliance’s mainline system restarts.

Keyera recently completed capacity expansion projects at the Simonette plant, including the addition of a 10,000-b/d condensate stabilization plant at the site to handle rising western Canadian natural gas production coming from the Montney geological horizon (OGJ, June 1, 2015, p. 58), as well as a 100-MMcfd expansion of the plant’s overall raw gas handling capacity to 250 MMcfd, according to the company’s latest quarterly earnings report to investors issues on Aug. 5.

Current operations

Keyera, which has interests in 19 gas plants in western Canada, one of which remains under construction, also issued updates on the following gathering and processing capital projects as part of its second-quarter 2015 report:

· At the Rimbey gas plant, 100 km southwest of Edmonton, the company commissioned in July a 400-MMcfd turbo expander designed to extract up to 20,000 b/d of ethane.

· Also at Rimbey, the company completed a debottlenecking project to increase the plant’s fractionation capacity to 28,000 b/d from its previous 21,000 b/d, lifting the plant’s overall liquids-handling capacity, which includes 10,500-b/d of condensate stabilization capacity, to 38,500 b/d from 31,500 b/d.

· Phase 1 of Bellatrix Exploration Ltd.’s new 110-MMcfd O'Chiese Ohpawganu'ck (Alder Flats) deep-cut gas plant—in which Keyera holds a 35% interest—in west-central Alberta was commissioned in late May (OGJ Online, Dec. 2, 2014). The second 110-MMcfd phase of the project, however, is now delayed to first-half 2017.

· Construction continued to progress on the 54-MMcfd Zeta Creek gas plant, located about 60 km west of Drayton Valley, Alta., and the plant is due for start-up by fourth-quarter 2015. Keyera, which holds 60% interest in the project alongside Velvet Energy Ltd. 40%, will act as plant operator.

Contact Robert Brelsford at

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