“Growing” Opposition to Shell Ethane Cracker Pipe from One Source

In June, Shell said that they plan to build their Falcon ethane pipeline in 2019 (see Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019). The pipeline won’t actually flow ethane to the Shell cracker in Monaca (Beaver County), PA until 2020 at the earliest–because the cracker plant itself won’t go online until 2020 at the earliest. The 97-mile, two-legged Falcon Pipeline is interesting because Shell didn’t use eminent domain. Shell negotiated with every landowner and got them all to sign on the dotted line. Yet we’re now hearing from Pittsburgh media that there is “growing” opposition to the project. Unless you’re a landowner with the right to stop it, or the Sierra Club with billions in the bank to launch frivolous lawsuits, there is no stopping this project, “growing opposition” or not. When you dig into the news, you will find the “growing” opposition seems to be coming from a single source–the Ambridge Water Authority.
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30-Story Quench Tower Set in Place for Shell Ethane Cracker

On Sunday, what will be the tallest and heaviest piece of equipment that’s part of the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker in Monaca (Beaver County), PA was hoisted into place. It’s called a “quench tower” and it looks like a humongous silo. It’s 300-feet high, which translates into about 30 stories. One of the world’s largest cranes had to be reserved a year ago in order to do the lifting. It took all day, but by 3:30 pm, the quench tower was standing upright–yet another monument to the power of the Marcellus Shale.
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“Cracker Effect” – Shell Plant Will Create 7,400 Permanent Jobs

Ever hear of the “cracker effect”? No, we hadn’t either. Not until we read about a new study by a husband and wife team from Washington & Jefferson College. The pair studied the economic impact of cracker plants on surrounding communities–some 34 ethane crackers in 16 counties around the country. Most of the cracker plants are located along the Gulf Coast. The purpose of the study is to accurately forecast what will happen with Shell’s new $6 billion ethane cracker currently under construction in Beaver County, near Pittsburgh. What might the real, measurable economic effect be from Shell’s cracker? According to the authors, the Shell cracker will generate ~7,400 permanent, long-term jobs. Crackers not only create new jobs, they boost wages in cracker counties by nearly 13% over counties without crackers. But counties without a cracker plant benefit too. Counties bordering counties with a cracker plant see lower unemployment rates. No mystery there. While the authors alluded to some negatives from crackers, we were hard-pressed to find any! It sure looks like everything is coming up roses with the Shell cracker. The numbers prove it…
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Revolution Pipeline Explosion in W PA – What We Know So Far

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is taking the lead in investigating the Energy Transfer Revolution Pipeline explosion and fire that happened in Beaver County early Monday morning (see Revolution Pipeline Near Pittsburgh Explodes – Home & Barn Destroyed). The PUC issued an update yesterday outlining what they know so far about the incident. PUC Chairman Gladys Brown cautioned that it’s still too early to draw any conclusions, although the working theory is that there was a landslide in the area due to continuous heavy rain for weeks. Brown said the engineers and investigators need time to investigate. No instant answers. Continuing bad weather in the area has hindered the investigation. PUC pipeline safety engineers have, however, confirmed a few facts about the incident…
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Revolution Pipeline Near Pittsburgh Explodes – Home & Barn Destroyed

Yesterday morning shortly before 5 am, a 24-inch gathering pipeline in Beaver County, PA (about 30 miles from Pittsburgh) caught fire and exploded. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, although a nearby home, barn and two garages were leveled by fire from the blast. The pipeline went online just last week, on Sept. 3. It wasn’t even officially/commercially online–it was still in testing phase. The exploded pipeline is part of Energy Transfer’s 100-mile Revolution Pipeline system. The pipe gathers dry and wet gas from local wells and delivers it to a cryogenic separating plant in Washington County, PA. From there, the separated methane goes into the Burgettstown Lateral of the Rover Pipeline (Burgettstown began service on Sept. 1). Following the explosion around 30 homes within a half mile were evacuated, but returned later in the day. Some 1,500 people in the area were without power for part of the day after six high-tension electric lines were toppled, either by the blast or the ensuring fire. A full investigation is now under way, but early indications are a “ground slip” (i.e. landslide) was the cause. That area has been pounded day after day with torrential rain, saturating the ground and causing multiple landslides in the area. Philadelphia antis (on the other side of the state) have already piled on, rubbing their hands with glee, pointing out Energy Transfer is the same company as Sunoco Logistics Partners–the company building the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. Antis are using a freak accident  and tragedy in the hills outside Pittsburgh to try and stop ME2 in the flat country of Greater Philadelphia…
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Shell Ethane Cracker Gets Reprieve from Trump Steel Quotas

Shell ethane cracker plant under construction in Monaca, PA – so many cranes you can’t count them!

RINO Pat Toomey can rest easy–there will be no delays in building the $6 billion Shell ethane cracker near Pittsburgh. The Trump Administration previously slapped a 25% tariff (i.e. tax) AND quotas on imported steel coming from countries dumping steel in our markets, driving out our own steel industry. Last week Trump lifted the quota from steel coming from certain countries, including Brazil. Shell is getting steel they need for the cracker from Brazil. Indeed, Shell’s Brazilian steel is already sitting in a U.S. port, undelivered due to the quota (a limit on how much can be imported). Now Shell’s steel can get shipped to Pittsburgh and used by the army of people working there. But get this: Shell will still have to pay the 25% tariff/extra charge for their Brazilian steel. Toomey, an early and persistent Trump critic (and a DC swamp dweller), one of PA’s two U.S. Senators, recently claimed Trump’s quotas/tariffs would result in layoffs and delays at the cracker (see Sen. Pat Toomey Claims Trump Tariffs Will Delay Shell Cracker). With that barrier now gone, Toomey will have to find something else to criticize about Trump. How about his hair?…
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Sen. Pat Toomey Claims Trump Tariffs Will Delay Shell Cracker

US Sen. Pat Toomey

Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senator Pat Toomey is a DC swamp dweller–let’s just be honest about it. He’s a Republican, largely in name only. He’s better than a Democrat–but not by much. Toomey is claiming that President Trump’s attempt to stop the flow of foreign steel dumping in our markets by using tariffs (dumping which hurts our own steel industry and isn’t anywhere close to being fair or free trade), will delay incoming material for the Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County and result in the layoff of “hundreds” of workers. A Shell spokesman neither confirms nor denies Toomey’s claims but uses doublespeak to sidestep the issue–meaning Shell likely asked Toomey to be the front guy in shaming the Trump Administration into granting waivers so they can get their cheap, imported steel. Toomey has been an early and repeat critic of Trump. Toomey opposed Trump’s tariffs from the beginning and is currently trying to get a new law passed stripping the President of his constitutional power to impose tariffs…
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PA Cracker Plant Stirs Up More Barging Business Along Ohio River

It’s fun to see all of the many, varied businesses impacted by the shale industry and by “downstream” projects like the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker, currently being constructed in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. One of the reasons for selecting the Monaca site for a cracker is it’s location along the Ohio River, with access to barges. A majority of the components and materials being used to build the cracker are being shipped in by barge. That single project (the Shell cracker) has had and is having a huge economic impact throughout Beaver County and the entire region–especially on the barge industry. After the cracker is complete, output from the plant (plastic pellets) will likely not be shipped by barge, but by rail and truck. However, the cracker will attract a number of new manufacturing facilities to the region, locating there to use the plastic pellets coming from the cracker. Those plants manufacture a variety of products–and many of those products will be shipped by barge. The Pittsburgh region is experiencing a barge shipping renaissance, thanks to the Marcellus/Utica and thanks to the Shell cracker…
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PA DEP Notifies Shell of “Technical Deficiencies” with Ethane Pipe

Shell delivered some good news at last week’s Northeast U.S. Petrochemical conference in Pittsburgh: The Falcon ethane pipeline will get built next year (see Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019). The pipeline won’t actually flow ethane to the Shell cracker in Monaca until 2020 at the earliest, because the cracker plant itself won’t go online until 2020 at the earliest. The 97-mile consists of “two legs,” with about half of the pipeline located in PA, the other half in OH. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted three public hearings on the project earlier this year, in preparation for issuing permits. Antis came out in force and behaved badly, as they typically do (see More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline). No matter. The pipeline will get built. But not without jumping some hurdles first. On June 1, the DEP issued three letters identifying what it calls “serious technical deficiencies” in Shell’s pipeline plan, for townships in three different counties along the pipeline’s PA route. Shell maintains this type of notification is “common” in the permitting process, and is committed to working with the DEP to address any issues of concern…
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Shell Cracker Advertises First 40 Permanent Production Jobs

Although Shell has hired a few permanent workers for its mighty $6 billion ethane cracker complex currently under construction in Monaca (Beaver County), PA, the company has just (for the first time) posted a job notification for bulk hiring of permanent positions. The job notice, posted on the BrassRing HR website, provides a detailed job description for “Shell Production Operators” in Monaca–40 of them. The job includes, “monitoring, controlling, starting and stopping equipment (such as furnaces, pumps, compressors, etc.), conducting activities that pertain to unit operation, and taking corrective action when necessary to ensure that all unit conditions and operations are in compliance with safety, environmental, and operating policies and procedures.” In order to qualify, prospects must jump through a several hoops (mechanical aptitude tests). If selected, candidates will go through extensive training from now until the plant opens some 2-3 years from now. Here’s the deets, including the full job description…
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Shell’s PA Ethane Cracker Plant Gets a Name: Shell Polymers

If you’ve read MDN for any length of time, you know about a $6 billion ethane cracker plant being built by Shell in Monaca (Beaver County), PA–near Pittsburgh. The plant will chemically “crack” ethane, an abundant natural gas liquid (NGL) that comes out of the ground along with methane, creating polyethylene from the ethane. Polyethylene is, in essence, raw plastic. Manufacturers in the region and beyond will use the plastic pellets Shell will produce at the plant to create an unlimited variety products. Shell is a smart company. They’re as much a marketing company as they are an oil and gas producer and petrochemical manufacturer. They know the value of positioning and mind share. We hadn’t thought about it previously, but we always just thought of and called the project the “Shell cracker plant.” The plant now has a name: Shell Polymers. The name Shell Polymers has been around for a long time but had fallen out of use when Shell largely exited the plastics business. With the new cracker coming online in the next few years, it’s time to revive the Shell Polymers name/brand and apply it to the cracker plant, which is how the project was being pitched at the last week’s NPE2018 (formerly called the National Plastics Exposition) in Orlando, Florida…
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More Workers Needed for Shell Cracker Plant, Unions Gear Up Training

Last Thursday Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV hosted an event called “Eye on Beaver County” in Beaver, PA–a celebration of Beaver and a discussion about the county’s future. An 11-member panel discussed the past, present and future of the county. The discussion, as you might imagine, quickly turned to Shell’s $6 billion ethane cracker, going up in Monaca even as you read this. A Shell rep and several reps from labor unions were on hand to discuss the manpower issue. The short version is this: Unions for carpenters, ironworkers, steamfitters, and heavy equipment operators need more members, more people to help build the facility. Like, now. The unions offer free training. No, the jobs are not permanent, but such jobs never are. They’re good, high-paying jobs and the jobs will last at least a few years. Plus you get bragging rights–“I helped build the Shell cracker plant.” Here’s how the discussion about the need for more cracker plant workers went at last week’s event…
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Shell Ethane Pipeline Hearing Draws Few Supporters, Many Antis

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Last night the first of three public hearings held by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection for the planned Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline project was held in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. About 100 people turned up for the hearing, which lasted an hour and a half. No signs allowed. The only people who could speak had to register first. Of the 23 who did speak, 16 of them (including out-of-town movement antis) spoke against the project, while 7 people spoke in favor. The 97-mile Falcon Ethane Pipeline system has two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant. Shell is not using eminent domain for any of its leases for the pipeline. Every lease is negotiated and signed with individual landowners. Antis, in large part being organized and agitated by radical groups like FracTracker Alliance, are making a concerted effort to block the pipeline, hoping they can in turn stop the multi-billion dollar cracker plant currently under construction by blocking the pipeline that feeds it…
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More Pipes Needed in M-U; Antis Gear Up to Protest Shell Cracker

Charlie Schliebs

Speaking of yesterday’s Kallanish Energy “Crackers, Storage & Pipelines 2018” event at Southpointe (Pittsburgh), one of the speakers, Rick DeCesar from AECOM, said contrary to what you may read and hear, the Marcellus/Utica region needs MORE midstream and pipeline projects over the next five years. Lately it seems we’ve read countless stories that say if all of the existing projects that have been announced come online, there will be more pipeline capacity than gas to flow through it. In other words, we’ve overbuilt with pipelines. DeCesar disagrees. He maintains new projects are “desperately needed.” His company is putting its money where its mouth is, hiring new people, in anticipation of more pipeline projects. MDN friend Charlie Schliebs was moderator for the panel featuring DeCesar. Charlie also had some interesting, and disturbing, things to say. Namely, he warned attendees that antis are gearing up to fight “and perhaps be arrested” in a bid to block construction work on the Shell ethane cracker plant in Monaca, PA…
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PA DEP Schedules 3 Hearings for Shell Ethane Pipeline

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In February, MDN told you the Pennsylvania State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had caved to pressure from anti-fossil fuelers with regard to Shell’s proposed Falcon Ethane Pipeline project (see PA DEP Caves to Pressure, Extends Comment Period for Shell Pipeline). Shell is working on an ethane “pipeline system” with two “legs” to feed the mighty cracker plant being built in Monaca, Beaver County (see Shell Working on 94-Mile Ethane Pipeline to Feed PA Cracker). The DEP advertised an official comment period for the project on Jan. 20, giving interested parties until Feb. 20 to file their comments–an entire month. However, one month isn’t enough time for anti-drillers to marshal the faithful to try and sink the project. FracTracker Alliance, an anti-fossil fuel organization, colluded with other groups to put the word out to flood the DEP with demands to keep the comment period open. The DEP caved and extended the comment period to April 17th along with three public hearings (circus freak shows), to give the FracTracker faithful time to mount publicity and legal offensives to try and stop the project. The DEP has just announced the dates and locations for the three public hearings…
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