Shell Chemical still deciding on plans for Pennsylvania feedstock plant

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: February 13, 2013 2:08 pm ET
Updated: February 13, 2013 2:11 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Materials Suppliers
Companies & Associations Shell Chemical Co.

HOUSTON -- Officials with Shell Chemical LP are still trying to decide if they want to access the shale gas boom and build a plastic feedstock plant in western Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh-based Horsehead Corp., the owner of the parcel of land where Shell has proposed the new plant, announced on Dec. 26 that it has given Shell a six-month extension for Shell to evaluate the site in Monaca, Pa.

Shell first announced its interest in the project in March 2012, saying that newfound supplies of natural gas in the region had led them to consider building an ethylene cracker that would use natural gas-based ethane as a feedstock. Downstream units making polyethylene resin also were being considered, officials said at the time.

In a Feb. 11 e-mail, Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon said that the Houston-based firm "continues to consider the possibility of building a petrochemical facility in western Pennsylvania."

"There are many hurdles to clear before we can even make an investment decision to build the proposed petrochemical complex," she added. "We need to confirm the suitability of the site, secure ethane feedstock supply, complete the engineering and design work, confirm the support of customers for our products, receive all the necessary permits and confirm that the project is economically robust and competitive."

"If the project goes forward, we fully expect to proceed with our preferred site in Pennsylvania, but we must complete a thorough environmental and technical review of the Horsehead location before we can confirm its suitability."

Horsehead currently operates a zinc-processing plant at the site, but plans to close that facility in late 2013 when it opens a new plant in North Carolina. If Shell had exercised its original option on the land, Horsehead would have been required to vacate the site by April 30, 2014. Shell's Windon declined to provide deadline dates for the new option, and Horsehead officials could not be reached for comment.

When asked about the possibility of Shell making PE resin at the site - which is about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh - Windon said that the firm "is in the preliminary stages of determining what derivatives we would manufacture at the proposed site."

"We are currently exploring different options on what the entire value chain will look like," she said in an e-mail, adding that the firm is looking at "the most efficient means of gathering, processing and extracting ethane, the best technology to convert the ethylene produced by the cracker to polyethylene and [PET feedstock] mono-ethylene glycol and the most efficient means of transporting and selling to customers."

Shell's original announcement surprised some in the industry, since U.S. petrochemical production for decades has been centered on the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, near existing feedstocks there. But the Marcellus Shale — a geological region covering parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia — now is believed to hold one of the largest natural gas deposits on the continent.

Shell already produces ethylene and related feedstocks at U.S. plants in Deer Park, Texas, and Norco, La. The firm hasn't been involved in the PE market since it sold off its ownership stake in Basell NV in 2005.

The ongoing natural gas boom has spurred several North American PE makers - including Formosa Plastics Corp. USA , ChevronPhillips Chemical Co. LP and Nova Chemicals Corp. to announce plans for new capacity, mostly at Gulf Coast locations. PE maker Dow Chemical also plans to add new ethylene feedstock capacity, but hasn't yet committed to increasing its PE production.

Startup firm Appalachian Resins also has entered the picture with plans to build a mid-sized ethylene and PE unit south of Wheeling, W. Va., about 75 miles southwest of the proposed Shell site in Monaca. AR officials plan to release details of that project by the end of the month.


Comments

Shell Chemical still deciding on plans for Pennsylvania feedstock plant

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: February 13, 2013 2:08 pm ET
Updated: February 13, 2013 2:11 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

PP prices rise, solid PS, PET drop

October 30, 2014 1:15 pm ET

North American polypropylene resin prices surged again in October, while regional prices for solid polystyrene and PET bottle resin continued their...    More

Image

Italian compounder opening first US plant

October 30, 2014 9:45 am ET

The song of the South has led Italian compounder So.F.Ter Group to open its first plant in the United States in Lebanon, Tenn.    More

Image

Ineos closing Barex plant, exiting business

October 29, 2014 3:58 pm ET

Materials maker Ineos Group is closing its only global Barex-brand polyacrylonitrile (PAN) resin plant in Lima, Ohio. Ineos – based in Rolle,...    More

Image

DSM picks Augusta, Ga., for nylon plant

October 29, 2014 11:49 am ET

Materials firm Royal DSM NV has chosen Augusta, Ga., as the site of its new North American nylon resin plant.    More

Image

Teknor Apex expands production of recycled nylon to Europe

October 29, 2014 10:12 am ET

Materials firm Teknor Apex Co. is making its recycled nylon compounds available in Europe for the first time.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events