Shell begins main construction on Pennsylvania petchem complex

HOUSTON – Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC announced the official start of the main construction phase of its major petrochemicals complex in Pennsylvania, USA. This follows the successful completion of the site preparation and detailed design and engineering work. The final investment decision was taken in June 2016, with commercial production expected to begin early next decade.

Photo courtesy of Shell.
Photo courtesy of Shell.

The early works program has been a significant project. Work included building bridges, relocating a state highway, improving existing interchanges, repositioning a rail line, and preparing foundations for the new complex. The site is now ready for the main construction to start.

Shell will now progress to the construction of four processing units—an ethane cracker and three polyethylene units. The ethane cracker will be the largest part of the facility with more than 200 major components and 95 mi of pipe. 

Shell will also construct a 900-ft long cooling tower, rail and truck loading facilities, a water treatment plant, an office building and a laboratory.

The site will include a 250-MW natural gas-fired power plant, which will produce electricity and steam for the facility. About a third of the electricity produced will help supply the local electricity grid.

The petrochemicals complex will use ethane from shale-gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica basins to produce 1.6 MMt of polyethylene per year. Polyethylene is used to make many products, from food packaging and sports equipment to furniture.

The project will help bring economic growth and jobs to the region, with up to 6,000 construction workers involved in building the facility. Shell expects to create around 600 permanent employee positions when the complex is completed.

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