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

Foster building medical polymers plant

September 19, 2014 1:39 pm ET

Foster Delivery Science is investing $8 million in a new plant in Putnam, Conn., for production of medical polymer blends, as well as rods, film or...    More

Image

BP to restart damaged PTA unit in limited capacity by November

September 19, 2014 10:27 am ET

British Petroleum plc may restart its fire-damaged purified terephthalic acid (PTA) feedstock unit in South Carolina in late October or early...    More

Image

Bayer spinning off plastics business

September 18, 2014 8:49 am ET

Bayer AG will spin off its MaterialScience plastics group into a separate, publicly-traded company within the next 12 to 18 months.    More

Image

Investor group wants DuPont to split in two

September 18, 2014 7:37 pm ET

Investment firm Trian Fund Management LP is calling for plastics and chemicals giant DuPont Co. to split itself into two firms, one of which would...    More

Image

China's Polymax Elastomer launches U.S. production in Illinois

September 17, 2014 3:35 pm ET

Chinese materials maker Polymax Elastomer Technology Co. Ltd. has opened a North American production site and headquarters in Waukegan, Ill.    More

Market Reports

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

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

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

More Events