Following the conclusion of site preparation and detailed design and engineering, Shell’s world-scale petrochemicals project near Pittsburgh has officially entered the main construction phase, Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC said Wednesday.
“Today marks an important step forward for this major growth project,” Graham van’t Hoff, executive vice president for Shell’s global chemicals business, said in a written statement. “The preparation phase went well and our focus is now on ensuring first-class construction. Shell’s commercial, engineering and manufacturing expertise will help make this project a great success.”
In June 2016, Shell made the final investment decision to build the complex along the Ohio River in Beaver County, Pa. The company stated that it has been engaged in an early works program that has involved building bridges, relocating a state highway, improving existing interchanges, repositioning a rail line and preparing foundations for the new complex, which will use low-cost ethane from Marcellus and Utica shale gas producers to manufacture 1.6 million tonnes of polyethylene (PE) per year. PE is used in products such as food packaging, furniture and automotive components, and Shell has observed that more than 70 percent of North American PE customers are located within 700 miles of Pittsburgh.
The facility will include four processing units – an ethane cracker and three PE units. Two of the PE units will manufacture high density PE (HDPE) grades of pellets and the third will produce linear low density PE (LLDPE) pellets, the company stated. Shell also pointed out that the complex will feature:
- a 900-foot (274-meter) long cooling tower
- rail and truck loading facilities
- a water treatment
- an office building
- a laboratory
- a 250-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant
Calling Shell’s multibillion-dollar project a “once-in-a-generation investment,” the head of the economic development marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development applauded the project’s transition from early works to main construction.
“The land bordered by I-376, PA Route 18 and the Ohio River in Beaver County has been dramatically changed for the better because of Shell’s serious interest in our region,” said David Ruppersberger, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. “Some 900 workers are on site now to prepare for main works, including vertical construction of this world-scale petrochemical facility, which will serve as an anchor for the greater region’s downstream opportunity.”
Shell said that it expects commercial production to start early next decade. The company expects the project to support up to 6,000 construction jobs and approximately 600 permanent employee positions during operations.