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Executive: Shell cracker will ‘change the skyline’ next year

By Michael Bradwell: September 28, 2017

PITTSBURGH – Within the next two to three years, the region should start to see additional plastics manufacturers arriving in the region to take advantage of cheap polyethylene pellets being produced here, an economic development official said Thursday.

Pittsburgh Regional Alliance President David Ruppersberger made the comment while participating in a panel discussion during the second day of the annual Shale Insight conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The conference is sponsored by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Ohio Oil and Gas Association and West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association.

The three other participants on the panel were Shell executives involved with the construction of the company’s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, which in two to three years will begin producing about 1.6 million tons of polyethylene pellets a year for customers in a 700-mile radius of the plant.

Todd Whittemore, a chemical engineer who is Shell’s global technology manager for polyethylene, told the audience of a couple hundred attendees that the product has an array of uses for the companies that purchase it, including plastic film, packaging and pipes.

The $6 billion cracker plant near Monaca, which will require 6,000 construction workers and will hire 600 permanent workers, is one of the largest economic development projects in the United States.

While Shell has spent the past few years remediating and prepping the site of the former Horsehead zinc smelting site in Center Township, the actual construction of the cracker plant is now under way. FULL ARTICLE

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