Pennsylvania Chemicals is a world-scale facility that will employ some 600 people from Pennsylvania and neighboring states to produce 1.6 million tonnes of polyethylene per year using ethane.
In July 2022, Shell announced construction on the project was complete. Throughout construction, craft professionals from across the U.S., represented by 15 unions, worked 47 million hours to reach this important milestone. The Shell Polymers team continues to work safely and diligently through the commissioning phase, with production expected to begin in late summer.
Pennsylvania Chemicals is a "megaproject" that offers communities in the region access to job opportunities and business development. The project required close collaboration and a One Team coordinated approach between the owner, Shell, Bechtel, GAB, unions, local contractors and suppliers, and module yards in Maine, Louisiana, and Mexico. It took about 9,500 people working during peak of construction at the 386-acre site to reach this significant milestone, placing:
- 241,000 cubic yards of structural concrete;
- 42,000 tons of structural steel;
- over 1 million feet of pipe;
- 1620 pieces of equipment; and
- 294 modules produced in four module yards.
The ethylene/polyethylene complex is located north of Pittsburgh in the Ohio River Valley. It comprises an ethane cracker and three polyethylene units, plus OSBL including a gas-fired combined cycle cogeneration unit and a large storage-in-transit rail yard.
Bechtel is the Main Works Contractor for the construction of the facility.
Learn more about the project.
What is ethane?
Ethane, like propane and butane, is a natural gas liquid (NGL) found in certain natural gas deposits, including the Marcellus and Utica Shale Formations. NGLs are separated from natural gas and used for a variety of industrial, residential, and commercial uses. Ethane is primarily used to create ethylene and will be the primary raw material for this facility.
What is polyethylene?
Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) is the primary raw material for items like flexible food packaging and pouches, collation shrink wrap, stretch film, protective packaging, flexible tubing, sports equipment (canoes), industrial equipment (tornado shelters), wire and cable insulation, and agricultural films.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is used to create “stiffer” products such as toys, crates, drums, shampoo bottles, milk jugs, detergent/bleach bottles, pails (buckets), environmental liners, paint containers, garden furniture, and other types of housewares.