GROAB-Project of the Month: Polyethylene Cracker Shell to Build Major Petrochemical Plant

Editor: Alexander Stark

Shell Chemical Appalachia has taken the final investment decision to build a major petrochemical complex, comprising an ethylene cracker with polyethylene derivatives unit, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Shell intends to establish shorter supply chains between gas feedstock and its American customers.
Shell intends to establish shorter supply chains between gas feedstock and its American customers.
(Picture: Shell Global)

Pittsburgh/USA – Main construction will start in approximately 18 months, with commercial production expected to begin early in the next decade.

The complex will use low-cost ethane from shale gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica basins to produce 1.6 million tonnes of polyethylene per year. Polyethylene is used in many products, from food packaging and containers to automotive components.

The facility will be built on the banks of the Ohio River in Potter Township, Beaver County, about 30 miles north-west of Pittsburgh. As a result of its close proximity to gas feedstock, the complex, and its customers, will benefit from shorter and more dependable supply chains, compared to supply from the Gulf Coast. The location is also ideal because more than 70 % of North American polyethylene customers are within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh.

“Shell Chemicals has recently announced final investment decisions to expand alpha olefins production at our Geismar site in Louisiana and, with our partner CNOOC in China, to add a world-scale ethylene cracker with derivative units to our existing complex there,” said Graham van’t Hoff, Executive Vice President for Royal Dutch Shell plc’s global Chemicals business. “This third announcement demonstrates the growth of Shell in chemicals and strengthens our competitive advantage.”

This project in our engineering database GROAB: Polyethylene Cracker in Pennsylvania

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