Shell launches major polyethylene manufacturing complex in Pennsylvania

© Shell

Shell Chemical Appalachia, a subsidiary of Shell plc, launched the first major polyethylene manufacturing complex in the northeastern United States this week in Monaca, Pa.

The facility, called Shell Polymers Monaca (SPM), commenced operations on Tuesday at its location in Monaca, adjacent to the Ohio River in Beaver County. Construction of the facility first began in April 2017.

The plant – which is expected to ramp up to full production by the second half of 2023 — will have three reactors, including two gas phase reactors and a slurry reactor. It will produce 3.5 billion pounds, or 1.6 million tons, of polyethylene on an annual basis.

The products it makes will serve customers who manufacture commodity and specialty films, pipe, blow-moulded containers, and injection-moulded parts. The plant is strategically located within a 700-mile radius of 70 percent of the U.S. polyethylene market.

SPM contracted most of its natural gas feedstock from the nearby Utica and Marcellus basins. The close proximity offers production advantages, but it also gives customers shorter supply chains. This translates to increased flexibility and access to polyethylene pellets that can be used in a wide variety of products, such as common household goods, consumer and food packaging, as well as industrial and utility products.

“Building this world-class facility is a fantastic achievement and one the team can be proud of; it’s a showcase of Shell’s project delivery expertise,” Huibert Vigeveno, Shell downstream director, said. “With great market access, innovative offers, and connected infrastructure, Shell Polymers Monaca is well positioned and ready to serve customers with high-quality, competitive products.”

Shell Polymers Monaca will support 600 full-time positions, with several thousand more resulting from private industry and public services required for support.

The facility represents an important step in growing Shell’s chemicals business as part of its Powering Progress initiative, which sets out the company’s strategy to accelerate its transition to a net-zero emissions energy business. This includes reducing emissions from its operations, its fuels, and from other energy products its sell to customers. It also involves capturing and storing any remaining emissions using technology or balancing them with offsets. Also, as evidenced by SPM, the company is increasingly participating in value chains closer to end-use customers and using advantaged feedstocks to deliver more high-value products while reducing exposure to commodity chemicals over time.

“I’m proud that in delivering this facility, we’ve had a strong and innovative safety focus, invested in the community through employment and education, and helped repair and improve the local environment by remediating a brownfield site. These commitments are core to Shell’s Powering Progress strategy today and will remain so in the years to come,” Vigeveno said.