Designing and engineering Shell’s new cracker plant

By R. Brock Pronko
Regional Business Analyst
Marcellus Business Central

Monaca, PA – After four and a half years of speculation, the “Shell game” is finally over. On June 7, Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, announced its plan to go ahead with building an ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. The plant, whose cost is estimated at $6 billion, will consume over 100,000 barrels of ethane per day, which will be coming from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays.

According to Ray Fisher, Shell’s public relations specialist for the project, the company has signed contracts with gas operators in the region to supply the ethane including Antero Resources, Ascent Resources Utica, Consol Energy, Eclipse Resources, Hilcorp Energy, Noble Energy and Penn Energy Resources.

The site will house the cracker, which includes storage tanks, pipelines, furnaces, quenching (cooling) towers, and three processing facilities to convert ethylene into polyethylene pellets. It will also have a railyard, two barge docks, a natural gas- fired power plant and a wastewater plant. Shell is keeping other details private due to “intellectual property concerns,” according to Fisher

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