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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Shell Tries to Calm Troubled Ambridge Water Authority re Pipeline

Shell wants to build a 97-mile ethane pipeline to feed the mighty $6 billion cracker plant its building in Beaver County, PA. Shell chose not use eminent domain but instead negotiated with (paid big bucks for) rights of way along the pipeline’s path. Earlier this month additional details came out about the proposed project when the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) published an application from Shell for stream crossing permits. When the details became known, the Ambridge Water Authority (in Beaver County), an organization that oversees a reservoir that provides drinking water for ~30,000 people, expressed “strong opposition” to the route of the pipeline (see Ambridge Water Authority Strongly Opposes Shell Ethane Pipe Route). But wait. Didn’t Ambridge know the route back in October 2017, when Shell first filed an application for the project? Yes they did. However, the stream crossing permit application reveals details either not in, or not obvious, in the original application–details that the pipeline will go under three streams that feed the Ambridge reservoir. That got the board up in arms. In a statement, the Water Authority said, “we will do everything in our power to try and have the pipeline relocated outside of our watershed and away from our main, and only, raw water line.” Tuesday night the Authority held a regularly scheduled meeting. Shell sent along several officials to talk with members of the board, to try and calm the troubled waters at Ambridge, so to speak. Did it work? Not really…
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Shell Gives “Transformational” $1M Gift to Pa. Community College

Shell Chemicals this week announced the donation of a $1 million gift to the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC). The gift will benefit the school’s process technology program and will be used to construct a new Shell Center for Process Technology Education building. CCBC President Chris Reber called it a “transformational gift” and an “extraordinary investment.” The gift will ultimately help train students to work for Shell and other companies that will benefit from Shell’s ethane cracker plant (being built in Beaver County). This isn’t the first huge gift for the process technology program at CCBC. In December, the Allegheny Foundation donated $1 million toward the first phase of the program’s expansion. Shell’s donation will fund the second phase. Aside from the big $1M announcement, Shell also awarded $2,500 (each) scholarships to 13 students in the CCBC process technology program. Shell has really stepped up to the plate in SWPA. They are investing in local talent and local institutions…
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Energy Transfer Wants to Build New Compressor Station in SWPA

New Sewickley Township (Beaver County), PA

In June 2015, MDN reported on an important new project in the Marcellus/Utica being built by Energy Transfer Partners (see ETP Announces $1.5B Revolution Pipeline/Plant Project in SWPA). The project, dubbed the Revolution Project, includes a 100-mile gathering pipeline system in Butler County, PA (lots of wet gas to move), along with a new cryogenic gas processing plant to be constructed “in western Pennsylvania”–which we later discovered is in Washington County, PA. The original plan was to have the cryogenic processing plant (in Washington County) up and running by 2Q17. That didn’t happen. We spotted a story from September last year which said it was due to go online “later this year”–meaning by the end of 2017. Is it online now? We don’t know/couldn’t find out. Possibly. What we do know is that the cryogenic plant will separate the wet gas into methane and NGLs, and that the NGLs will hitch a ride on the Mariner East 2 Pipeline all the way to Marcus Hook. That’s the plan. The pipeline itself that gathers and sends wet gas to the cryogenic processing plant has one compressor station to compress the gas and send it on its way. However, Energy Transfer wants to build a second compressor station to assist. And they want to build it now, as in right now, before summer, in New Sewickley Township (Beaver County)…
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Ambridge Water Authority Strongly Opposes Shell Ethane Pipe Route

Shell has had pretty smooth sailing with their proposed 97-mile Falcon ethane pipeline project–a pipeline that will feed the mighty $6 billion cracker plant Shell is building in Beaver County, PA. Shell did not use eminent domain but instead negotiated with (paid big bucks for) rights of way along the pipeline’s path. That process continues. There have been some grumblings here and there, particularly from Big Green groups. But all in all, there has been remarkably little opposition–that is, until now. Shell filed an application to build the Falcon project back in October (see Shell Files PA Application for Ethane Pipe to Feed Cracker Plant). On Jan. 20, Shell filed an application for federal stream crossing permits–something the PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issues (see PA DEP Invites Public Comment on Shell 60-Mile Ethane Pipeline). Because of the stream crossing application, the Ambridge Water Authority (in Beaver County), an organization that oversees a reservoir that provides drinking water for ~30,000 people, is expressing “strong opposition” to the route of the Falcon pipeline. Wait a minute. Didn’t Ambridge know the route back in October, when Shell first filed? Yes. However, the stream crossing permit application reveals details either not in, or not obvious, in the original application–details that the pipeline will go under three streams that feed the Ambridge reservoir. That’s got the board up in arms. In a statement, the Water Authority said, “we will do everything in our power to try and have the pipeline relocated outside of our watershed and away from our main, and only, raw water line.” Whether or not there’s any legitimacy to their concerns, Shell now has a PR situation on its hands–the old “it’s going to poison our drinking water” canard that’s a favorite of those who oppose drilling and pipelines. It will be interesting to see how Shell handle’s this situation…
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Landowners Who Negotiate with Shell Ethane Pipeline Get More $

In February 2016, MDN exclusively broke the news that Shell had begun to sign leases with landowners for a 97-mile ethane pipeline (two branches) to feed their mighty cracker plant (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant). Since that time we’ve tracked any news we could find that reveals what Shell is paying landowners in Beaver County (and elsewhere) for the right to run the ethane pipeline (called the Falcon Ethane Pipeline) across their land. So far, we’ve seen rates as high as $75 per foot, and as low as $43 per foot. We just spotted another mention. An extensive (and well written) article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviews a number of landowners who have dealt with Shell, signing leases to allow the ethane pipeline across their land. The article opens with the story of a couple and their attempt to negotiate with Shell. If you play too hard to catch, Shell might route the pipeline around your land, onto your neighbor’s land instead. But sign too early, and maybe you’re leaving money on the table. It’s a fine line–causing stress and strain. In reading the article we really perked up when we read about Ed Bilik, founder of Greensburg-based Western Pennsylvania Gas Leasing Consultants. Ed was the first guy to sniff out the eventual path of the pipeline–which he did by knocking on doors to see where Shell landmen had already visited. Bilik eventually got 41 landowners to sign with him, allowing Bilik to help them with negotiations. According to Bilik, “Shell started out offering $40 per foot for the right to lay two pipelines.” Bilik would not say how much his clients eventually got from Shell, but he did say this: “We exceeded that [amount] multiple times,” meaning his clients got a whole lot more than $40/foot when they signed. Here’s a portion of this enlightening article…
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MDN Guide to Finding a Job at the Shell Cracker Plant

Although Shell’s mighty $6 billion ethane cracker chemical complex won’t be completed until around 2020, Shell is not waiting with respect to recruiting talent to operate the plant. Shell recently launched a page on their main website dedicated to recruiting people for cracker plant jobs (see that page here). Please note these are not jobs building the plant, but instead are jobs working at the plant, after it’s built. The CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh, KDKA Channel 2, noticed the Shell jobs page for the cracker project and reports that “there are no job listings yet, those interested can sign up to receive email alerts when job listings are posted to the site.” It’s true folks can now sign up to receive new job postings via email. However, KDKA missed the fact that there are several jobs already posted related to the cracker facility…
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Milestone: Construction Begins on Shell Cracker Plant Buildings

A major milestone has been reached in the mighty Shell $6 billion ethane cracker facility project. Over the past year or so site preparation has been vigorous. Work at the site in Monaca (Beaver County), PA has included building bridges, relocating a state highway, improving existing interchanges, repositioning a rail line, and preparing foundations for the new complex. The prep work is now largely done–and this week begins construction of the buildings that will house four processing units–the ethane cracker itself and three polyethylene units. Also part of this next (final) phase of construction: a 900-foot long cooling tower, rail and truck loading facilities, a water treatment plant, an office building and a laboratory. Oh! And let’s not forget that Shell will also build a 250 megawatt electric generating plant that will provide all of the electricity needed at the facility–powered by Marcellus Shale gas, of course! Here’s an update from Shell, with a picture of the site as it is now…
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Shell Taps Brit to Run the $6B Ethane Cracker Project in Monaca

Shell’s $6 billion ethane cracker plant facility in Monaca (Beaver County), PA is about to ramp up construction of the numerous buildings that will house the equipment. Since 2014, Ate Visser, vice president of Appalachia petrochemicals at Shell Chemical, has been the guy in charge of the project (see Shell Exec Shares Inside Story of Why They Chose PA for Cracker). However, beginning now, Hilary Mercer, a native of Manchester, England (has worked at Shell for the past 30 years) is now the woman in charge of the project. Mercer is the new vice president of the cracker plant project. She has an interesting, globe-trotting history. Mercer says she likes to build “big projects.” Prior to landing in her role in PA, Mercer was in South Korea overseeing construction of the largest floating structure ever built. But building the huge cracker facility isn’t the only thing that jazzes Mercer about the project. She’s pumped at the prospect of building the commercial side–building a business from the ground up. Finding customers, branding, everything that comes with creating demand for the output from the mighty cracker facility. Here’s a look at the new leader of the Shell cracker plant project…
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