Shell advances Pennsylvania cracker project as more workers return to site

Joseph Chang


NEW YORK (ICIS)–Shell is making progress on its 1.5m tonne/year US ethane cracker and polyethylene (PE) project as more workers return to the site, a spokesperson said on Monday.

“We’ve been re-introducing workers to our Pennsylvania Chemicals project at a measured pace since spring, bringing the total number of workers on site to 6,500,” said the spokesperson.

“We’ve now erected all of the large structures and the remaining work is mostly about putting it all together – connecting modules, etc via pipes and wiring that will eventually loop and extend for hundreds of miles along the site’s 386 acres,” he added.

Because of the coronavirus lockdown and the need for additional safety measures, Shell suspended work on the site on 18 March. At the time, Shell had a peak of 8,000 workers at the site.

By July, it had brought back 3,500-3,700 workers to the Pennsylvania site but then halted adding additional workers because of rising coronavirus cases in the region.

However, as coronavirus cases diminished in the Northeast, the company has been bringing back workers to the site.

Shell is now commissioning portions of the site’s water treatment facility and a 250 megawatt power plant will follow, followed by the production units, the spokesperson noted.

“As we safely ramp up to a pre-pandemic level of activity, the project remains on schedule to be completed sometime in the early 2020s,” said the spokesperson.

The complex includes a 1.5m tonne/year ethane cracker and three PE units totalling 1.6m tonnes/year of capacity in Monaca in western Pennsylvania.

Additional reporting by Al Greenwood

Thumbnail image shows the site of the complex. Source: Keith Srakocic/AP/Shutterstock

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