Shell Cracker Construction Starting Soon; Concrete Plants Ramp-up

One of our fun pastimes is speculating about when, exactly, the mighty Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County, PA will actually go online. In February, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said this: “We haven’t announced exactly when it will start up, but expect that to be not anymore this decade” (see Shell CEO Says PA Cracker Up & Running “Not Anymore This Decade”). What did the non-native English-speaking van Beurden mean? Your guess is as good as ours. Did he mean “by the end of this decade,” or “not by the end of this decade”? Our best guess is that the cracker won’t be operating until 2020 or 2021–that is, the latter meaning. We have some evidence to support that theory. Two concrete plants are due to begin construction any day now, being built by Champion Concrete. The two plants, which will manufacture all of the concrete used in the cracker, are scheduled to be completed and in operation by July. So concrete for the project begins to flow in July. The useful life of the two plants (for manufacturing concrete for the cracker) is three years. Three years from this summer will be the summer of 2020. Important note to supply chain businesses: as the concrete plants and construction activity ramps up, there’s opportunity to sell more of your goods and services to this enormous project. The number of workers at the site will steadily increase this year and next…

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