Shell Polymers' massive plastics and petrochemical facility near Pittsburgh is nearing completion.
"We're approximately 95 percent complete in terms of our above-ground construction," a company spokesman said in recent email to Plastics News. "Right now, we believe we will be an operating asset this year."
The plant in Monaca, Pa., will have more than 3 billion pounds of annual polyethylene production capacity. Shell began construction at the 386-acre site in late 2017, but work had been delayed because of conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shell had completed placement of all the site's large vertical structures before the pandemic hit in early 2020.
"At this stage, we're connecting the various pieces of kit together via hundreds of miles of pipe and building out the electrical scope across a 386-acre manufacturing core," the spokesman said.
The site's construction team has handed several buildings — including a control center, administration building, central maintenance, fire and medical and carpentry shop — over to Shell. Company personnel now are on site working in those buildings.
At the height of construction, Shell had more than 8,500 workers at the site. With much of the work done, 4,000 workers remain there. Once complete, there will be approximately 600 permanent on-site workers and numerous local contractors employed.
Shell chose the location because of its access to the Marcellus and Utica shale-based natural gas deposits. Natural gas can be converted into ethane and then into ethylene and PE resin. The site will be the first U.S. PE plant built outside of the Gulf Coast in at least 40 years. Most of the resin made in Monaca is expected to be sold to customers in North America.
In late 2021, Shell commissioned the site's raw water treatment plant and safely brought on permanent supply lines of nitrogen and natural gas. The firm also started up the site's 250-megawatt natural gas and steam co-generation facility.