Shell picks Pennsylvania for possible US cracker, PE, MEG units

15 March 2012 17:48  [Source: ICIS news]

Shell picks Pennsylvania for possible US cracker PE, MEG unitsHOUSTON (ICIS)--Shell chose a site near Monaca, Pennsylvania, for a possible cracker, the company said on Thursday.

If built, the cracker would use ethane from the Marcellus Shale as a feedstock.

In addition, Shell is considering building polyethylene (PE) and monoethylene glycol (MEG) units at the site, the company said.

Shell did not provide capacities or start-up times.

So far, Shell has signed a land-option agreement with US zinc producer Horsehead to evaluate the Pennsylvania site, the company said.

For the next step, Shell will conduct more environmental studies as well as additional engineering design studies, the company said. Shell will also assess the local ethane supply and continue to evaluate the economics of the project.

In fact, Shell is years away from making a final decision on funding a new cracker, according to an earlier statement by Peter Voser, the company's CEO. Shell could have a cracker completed by 2017 if it began construction in 2014.

Before choosing Pennsylvania, Shell was also considering Ohio and West Virginia for the project.

“We are very pleased to have signed this site option agreement,” said a statement by Dan Carlson, general manager of new business development at Shell Chemicals.

“This is an important step for the project, and we look forward to working with the communities in Pennsylvania, and gas producers across Appalachia, as we continue our efforts to develop a petrochemical complex," he said in a statement.

The advent of shale gas in the US has led to several companies considering or announcing plans for new crackers.

Several companies have said they are planning to build a crackers or are at least considering such projects in the US.

Chevron Phillips Chemical plans to build a 1.5m tonne/year ethane cracker and two PE plants, each with a capacity of 500,000 tonnes/year.

Formosa Plastics said plans to build an 800,000 tonne/year olefins cracker, a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit and a low-density polyethylene plant at its Port Comfort, Texas, site, with a start up as early as 2016.

Dow Chemical's new ethane cracker will be a brownfield project it will likely build in Texas, with start up in 2016-2017, the company said.

Renewable Manufacturing Gateway (RMG) and Aither Chemicals signed a letter of engagement to collaborate on financing and building a petrochemical complex using Aither's ethane-cracking technology.

In addition, Thailand-based polyester producer Indorama and a partner are in the early stages of studying the feasibility of a new US cracker.

Sasol has started a feasibility study for a cracker and derivatives project at Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Mexico-based Mexichem said it was in early talks to take an ownership stake in a new ethylene plant in the US, it said.

SABIC said it would consider investing in a US cracker either with a partner or by itself.

Braskem also said it was considering a greenfield investment in an ethylene and PE plant in the US.

Additional reporting by Bobbie Clark

By: Al Greenwood
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