Update: Shell to Build 94 Mile Pipeline for Cracker Plant

August 18, 2016

Shell Chemical Appalachia's ethane cracker plant being built on the site of the former Horsehead zinc smelter on the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania will be connected to a 94-mile pipeline being built by Shell Pipeline.

The new Falcon Ethane Pipeline System will connect three ethane sources:  Houston facility in western Pennsylvania, and the  Cadiz and Scio facilities in Ohio. Shell started the process to acquire rights-of-ways earlier this month and intends to start construction in late 2018. The pipeline capacity is expected to be a little more than 100,000 barrels per day of ethane.

When built, it will be the first time in more than 20 years that such a facility has been constructed outside the Gulf Coast area.

Ten natural gas producers have signed 10-20 year agreements to anchor Shell's cracker. The company has been approaching landowners in the region about the ethane system, but Fisher said Shell began securing land this month for the pipelines. The cracker isn't expected to be operational until the early 2020s, and the Shell affiliate has not yet made any filings for the pipeline system with state and federal agencies, according to regulatory officials.

Estimates from public officials and petrochemical industry experts on the plant’s construction cost have ranged from $2 billion to $6 billion but Shell has made no cost estimates available at this time. The plant also is expected to attract numerous plastics manufacturers to the region.