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

PolyOne says new Shanghai center will ease collaboration across segments

April 24, 2014 2:34 pm ET

PolyOne Specialty Engineered Materials is opening an innovation Center in Shanghai's Jinqiao development zone that will serve as its new Asia Pacific ...    More

Biopolymer firms report success with PHA pilot production

April 24, 2014 1:30 pm ET

Biopolymer developer Meridian Inc. and Tate & Lyle plc have reported successful pilot production of Meridian's process to make polyhydroxyalkanoate,...    More

Songwon acquires division of India's SeQuent

April 24, 2014 12:22 pm ET

Songwon Industrial Group of South Korea has signed a deal with SeQuent Scientific Limited, India to acquire SeQuent's specialty chemicals business.    More

Image

Performance Plastics unit helps lead to increase in sales for Dow Chemical

April 24, 2014 9:57 am ET

Dow reported turnover of $14.5 billion April 23, including an adjusted 6 percent increase in sales at its performance plastics operation, which it...    More

Image

Milliken expanding SC plant for additional PP clarifying agent capacity

April 23, 2014 3:42 pm ET

American chemical company Milliken & Co. has announced plans for a major expansion in capacity for its Millad NX8000 clarifying agent for polypropylen...    More

Market Reports

Market Data Book - Rankings & Lists

A one-stop download of Plastic News' exclusive annual lists and processor rankings containing essential data including sales, employees, end markets, materials and more.
EXCLUSIVE EXCEL FEATURE: full mailing address details for available plant locations.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Mold Making and Tooling Review and Outlook 2014 North America

This report provides in-depth analysis of the mold and toolmaking market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats, the latest developments in production and labor and equipment trends impacting moldmakers.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events