Shell OK's Huge New Ethane Plant in Pennsylvania

June 8, 2016

Shell Chemical Appalachia says it is moving forward with plans to build a multibillion dollar petrochemical plant on the site of a former Horsehead zinc smelter on the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania.

The plant will create 600 permanent jobs and is a direct result of shale gas development in the Appalachian states. The company says construction will begin within 18 months with the goal of being online early in the 2020s.

The Shell plant will require a daily diet of 105,000 barrels of ethane, one of the family of natural gas liquids - including propane and butane - that are produced in the "wet" gas areas of the Marcellus Shale in southwestern Pennsylvania and the Utica Shale in Ohio and West Virginia. The plant will be within 700 miles of 70 percent of North American polyethylene customers.
Ethane crackers break down or "cracks" large molecules into smaller ones. The Shell operation will produce 1.5 million metric tons of ethylene a year. Shell also plans to build three other manufacturing units to convert the ethylene into polyethylene pellets.