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More Progress at Shell’s PA Ethane Cracker Plant Site

Proposed Shell cracker plant site plan

Proposed Shell cracker plant site plan – click for larger version

All signs continue to point to a “go” decision for Shell’s planned ethane cracker plant facility in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. Shell has now spent over half a billion dollars out of a projected $2-$3 billion (25%) on the project already (see Shell has Spent “Half a Billion Dollars” on PA Cracker Already!). Last month a local mall owner said that Shell has leased part of the mall’s parking lot for big bucks (see More Evidence that the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in PA is a Go). And just last week Shell’s CFO said the PA cracker project is “an excellent project” and they expect to make a decision soon (see Shell Says PA Cracker Decision Coming < 12 Months – Looking Good). We can throw a few more positive signs into the mix. A bridge Shell was building over top a local highway to give trucks easy access to the site is now complete. Shell has committed $69 million to build a new water treatment plant for the local town. And they are now building a new dock facility which, according to Shell, will be “critical” to building the new plant…
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New Tech Converts NatGas into Ethylene, Bypassing Cracker Plants


Siluria’s Oxidative Coupling of Methane to ethylene (OCM) demo plant in La Porte, Texas

Ethane cracker plants are big deals. We’ve been writing about cracker plants possibly coming to the northeast since 2012, when Shell first floated their idea for a plant and selected a site outside Pittsburgh, in Beaver County, PA (see Shell Announces Location of Ethane Cracker Plant). A cracker plant is a big deal for a couple of reasons. One reason is that building the plant generates thousands of short-term jobs and injects $2-$3 billion (or more!) into the local and regional economy. It’s an economic stimulus the federal government just can’t match–and it doesn’t come from taxpayer’s wallets! In addition, once the plant is built, manufacturing plants begin to locate around it, like mini-satellites. Why? Because an ethane cracker chemically “cracks” ethane turning it into ethylene, the raw material used to make plastics. And plastics are used in just about everything you touch every day. These satellite companies represent thousands of permanent jobs and perhaps an infusion of $15-$20 billion into the regional economy–off the charts! But what if cracker plants were not needed to create ethylene? What if you could bypass cracking ethane and instead go right from natural gas (or methane) to ethylene? That is the premise behind a disruptive new technology from Siluria Technologies. Siluria has operated a pilot plant in Texas for the past year that essentially converts methane into ethylene, without using ethane. Here’s the details…
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More Evidence that the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in PA is a Go

PREITWe have more evidence that Shell’s Monaca (Beaver County), PA cracker plant is now a go. MDN previously told you that Shell has already spent upward of half a billion dollars out of the projected $2-$3 billion it will take to build the project (see Shell has Spent “Half a Billion Dollars” on PA Cracker Already!). Now comes word from an area mall owner that Shell has purchased more land near the proposed plant and has leased part of the mall’s parking lot “for a significant sum of money”…
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Steady Progress at Belmont County, OH Ethane Cracker Plant Site

OH-WV mapIt was exactly a year ago (last Friday) that PTT Global Chemical announced their intentions to build an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time a number of positive signs have occurred that indicate this is a real, very serious project. One such sign is that PTT is paying $100 million to have the engineering work done for the plant (see PTT Announces 2 Contractors Working on Belmont Cracker Plant). Another sign is that demolition work at the site has begun (see Ongoing Demolition Work at Future Belmont OH Ethane Cracker Site). The demolition work, as well as the design work, continues. Here’s an update on the latest good signs coming from the proposed Belmont cracker plant…
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Cracker Plant in Scotland “Brought Back to Life” Thx to Marcellus Ethane

ineosThe Swiss-based company INEOS is a young but rapidly growing chemical company with roughly $40 billion in sales per year. INEOS’ competitors would be companies like BASF, Bayer and Dow Chemical. One of the projects owned by INEOS is an ethane cracker/chemical plant complex in Grangemouth, Scotland. It is Scotland’s biggest manufacturing complex hosting Europe’s biggest ethane storage tank–able to store up to 33,000 tonnes of liquid natural gas. INEOS announced yesterday that the second manufacturing unit at the Grangemouth plant has been “brought back to life” some eight years after being mothballed. The reason? To begin processing Marcellus shale ethane that will be shipped to it later this year from the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia…
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Shell Leases 76,000 Sq Ft Office Space Near Cracker Plant Site

We believe there’s little doubt remaining that Shell will commit to building a $3 billion ethane cracker plant in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. The evidence continues to mount. Shell is spending big bucks on a variety of activities related the project, as we’ve previously indicated (see Shell Begins Hiring for Monaca, PA Ethane Cracker Plant). The latest evidence comes from the Pittsburgh Business Times who has an inside source telling them that Shell has cut a deal with Michael Baker International to lease a 76,000-square-foot building with a 400-car parking lot sitting on 100 acres near the proposed cracker site in Beaver County…
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Shell Begins Hiring for Monaca, PA Ethane Cracker Plant

Yesterday a sharp MDN reader called our attention to a job posting on LinkedIn. The posting, by Shell, seeks a “Technical Service Team Lead Polyethylene (Pittsburgh, PA).” When you read the job listing (below) it clearly states it the job is for their Monaca, PA ethane cracker plant complex. Now this is a single job posting–so far–although it’s for a very important position. Still, our point is this: You don’t spend millions building a new bridge over a highway as a new entrance to a piece of property (see Shell Begins Building Bridge to PA Cracker Plant Site), you don’t spend $80 million to clean up that site (see Shell Paying $80M to Clean Up PA Site for Ethane Cracker Plant), you don’t spend $69 million to move a water intake site and build a new water treatment site for the local town because the current water intake is on the site where you want to build (see Shell Paying $69M to Move Water Plant for Cracker Project), you don’t spend money to lease land to build two ethane pipelines to that site (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant), and you don’t begin hiring people to work on/at the plant–unless you’re serious about building it…
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Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant

exclusiveMDN received an exclusive tip from a trusted source (who is also an MDN subscriber) yesterday about the Shell ethane cracker plant in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. Our source, who lives in Beaver County, told us he was approached by a Shell landman about signing a pipeline right-of-way through his property to build a pipeline to the plant. We have an account of our source’s conversation with the landman, and some key information the landman let slip about Shell’s plans for two such pipelines…
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PTT Taps Swiss Company INEOS for OH Cracker Plant Technology

Yet another piece of the Belmont County, OH ethane cracker falls into place–further indicating the project is likely to get built. It was only April of this year that MDN brought you the announcement that partners PTT Global Chemical (based in Thailand) and Marubeni Corporation (financial company based in Japan) were teaming up to potentially build a new $5.7 billion ethane cracker/petrochemical complex in Belmont County (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time, PTT hasn’t let any grass grow under its feet. Already PTT (and Marubeni) are spending $100 million with Bechtel Enterprises and Fluor Corporation to design the plant (see PTT Announces 2 Contractors Working on Belmont Cracker Plant). PTT has also signed an option to buy the property where they plan to build the plant (see 300 Acres Next to FirstEnergy Site Part of Belmont Cracker Plan). All very good signs that this is indeed a serious project moving forward. And now, another piece of the puzzle falls into place. INEOS Technologies, a Swiss-based petrochemical technology company, announced they have been selected to provide a key piece of the technology for the new Belmont cracker plant…
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Odebrecht’s WV Ethane Cracker Plant May Not be Dead After All

stoppress.jpgWait a minute! We thought the proposed Odebrecht ethane cracker plant near Parkersburg in Wood County, WV was all but dead. Lifeless. In April the company said it was “re-evaluating plans” to build it (see Odebrecht Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker). In June, Odebrecht’s Brazilian CEO was arrested, casting further doubt on the project (see Odebrecht CEO Arrested; What Does it Mean for WV Cracker Plant?). Since that time we’ve seen a bit of cheerleading and some empty platitudes from WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin who hasn’t given up on the project (see WV Gov Tomblin Continues to Cheerlead for Wood Co. Cracker Plant). But we didn’t detect a pulse. Both the Shell cracker (in PA) and PTT Global cracker (in OH) have had robust developments that indicate those plants are making serious progress. But nothing for the Odebrecht project all year long–that is, until now…
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Expert Tells Utica Conference NE Will See “3 or 4” Cracker Plants

three or fourAn expert speaking at the Utica Summit III yesterday in Stark, OH said he believes the Marcellus/Utica region will see three, possibly four, ethane crackers built. Tom Gellrich of consulting firm TopLine Analytics, a company that “closely follows ethane markets,” said he thinks the first ethane cracker to get built will be the Shell cracker plant in Beaver County, PA…
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MarkWest Exec Says Ethane Storage Key Issue for NE Cracker Plants

ethane tank

Ethane tank in Grangemouth, Scotland – click for larger version

At yesterday’s sessions of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) conference at Oglebay Park (Wheeling), WV, MarkWest Energy’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer Greg Floerke talked about natural gas liquids (NGLs)–specially ethane–and the need for a regional ethane cracker plant. Floerke said MarkWest currently processes around 75% of all NGLs in the Marcellus/Utica region and that his company alone could provide enough ethane for several cracker plants. However, for those considering the prospect of spending billions of dollars to build a cracker plant, Floerke says there is a key issue–storage. Cracker plants want to be assured there will be a steady supply and one way you get steady supplies is with storage…
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AR “Baby” Cracker Plant in Monroe County, OH Put on Hold

on holdIn February 2013 MDN brought you news about plans from Appalachian Resins (AR) to build a polyethelene (PE) manufacturing plant complete with a “baby” ethane cracker. The original plan was to build it in the Wheeling, WV area. However, a year later the location shifted across the border to Monroe County, OH. As late as April of this year AR was still committed to the project (see Ohio “Baby Cracker” Plant Still a Go – 2018 Startup Date). Turns out commitment is a fickle thing when it comes to cracker plants–either baby or fully grown. AR recently revealed they have put their “baby cracker” plant project on hold. The leaders of AR say with both Shell and the PTT Global projects heating up, they don’t believe there will be enough talent in the region to build their project. Interestingly, the CEO of AR says he firmly believes the PTT Global project (a company based in Thailand) will get built–but not for the reason you might expect (i.e., economics)…
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Shell Paying $80M to Clean Up PA Site for Ethane Cracker Plant

positive signShell continues to work (and spend money) on a site in Beaver County, Pennsylvania that will one day hopefully be the home of an ethane cracker plant. The most recent positive sign that Shell will move forward with the project is that they are in the process of building a bridge over a highway for trucks to access the site as they work on site preparation and building (see Shell Begins Building Bridge to PA Cracker Plant Site). The newest evidence that Shell will move forward with the project is their plan to deal with leftover contamination at the site. The site is a former zinc smelter and there are high levels of very nasty stuff in the soil at the site, including lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Shell plans to cover the site, locking in the nasty stuff–a project that will cost them $80 million and take two years to complete…
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WV Gov Tomblin Continues to Cheerlead for Wood Co. Cracker Plant

cheerleaderThe one ethane cracker plant project announced for the Marcellus/Utica region that once seemed the mostly likely to proceed now seems the least likely to move forward–the Brazilian-based Odebrecht project planned for Wood County, WV. The ASCENT (Appalachina Shale Cracker Enterprise) project seemed to have the most momentum in 2014 (see Odebrecht’s WV Ethane Cracker has The Big Mo–Momentum). But then the price of oil crashed and clouds started to appear for the project. In April Odebrecht pushed the pause button on the project (see Odebrecht Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker). Odebrecht itself has been caught up in scandal in Brazil and it’s CEO was arrested in June (see Odebrecht CEO Arrested; What Does it Mean for WV Cracker Plant?). Both the Shell cracker project in Pennsylvania, which once seemed unlikely, and a new ethane cracker project for Ohio, have both since made significant progress, making the Odebrecht project seem all the more unlikely. However, WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is still cheerleading for his state’s cracker plant. He recently said, “We feel very strongly they’ll continue to build the cracker plant”…
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Sunoco Logistics Planning Propane Cracker Plant for Marcus Hook Site

who knewAn interesting article in the Philadelphia Inquirer provides some of the history, and an update, for the Marcus Hook refinery in the Philly area. You may recall that Sunoco Logistics Partners purchased the refinery and is in the process of turning it into an NGL export facility–to send ethane, propane and other NGLs to locations along the U.S. coastline and internationally to Europe. What you may not know (what we sure didn’t know) is that Sunoco LP hopes to one day build a propane cracker at the site–a facility that will convert propane into propylene, the raw material used to make plastics. Who knew?! This would be yet another cracker plant that would compete, in a small way, with the proposed Shell cracker plant planned for the Pittsburgh area…
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