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DEP schedules hearing for Shell’s proposed ethane plant

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

To provide information to the public, answer questions and take formal testimony on Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC’s Air Quality Plan Approval request, the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold a question and answer session followed by a public hearing on 5 May 2015 at Central Valley High School in Monaca.

This is the first permit application from Shell to be considered by DEP for the proposed construction of a petrochemicals complex that will, when complete, crack ethane and manufacture polyethylene pellets for use in the plastics industry. The proposed Shell complex would be located on the site formerly occupied by Horsehead Corporation’s Monaca Zinc Smelter in Potter Township, Beaver County. The Plan Approval application was submitted to DEP on 1 May 2014, and has undergone a thorough technical review by DEP’s Bureau of Air Quality.

Representatives from Shell and the DEP will make presentations explaining the permit application and review process. The presentations will be followed by an open question and answer session. At the conclusion of the question and answer portion, a formal public hearing will be held. Attendees can present testimony in the form of comments, statements or questions. All testimony presented will be part of the administrative record. DEP will respond in a written comment and response document.


Shell is proposing to construct a petrochemicals complex near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that will convert ethane into ethylene and subsequently polyethylene. The proposed complex will be the first major US project of its type built outside the Gulf Coast region in 20 years. The facility will leverage the plentiful new supplies of ethane in the region to produce polyethylenes used extensively by the area’s manufacturing base. This will reduce economic and environmental transportation costs while providing regional manufacturers with more flexibility, shorter supply chains, and enhanced supply dependability.

The proposed project site is located within an industrial area adjoining the Ohio River in Potter and Center Townships in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The site offers strategic advantages including access to marine, rail and road transportation, and pipelines; proximity to both ethane supply and polyethylene markets; access to a skilled workforce; a prior history of industrial use; appropriate zoning and compatible adjoining land uses; and a positive business climate.

The proposed project, expected to employ 400 workers, will be comprised of an ethylene manufacturing plant with an average capacity of 1.5 million tpy. The ethylene that is produced will be used to supply feed to three polyethylene manufacturing units with a combined annual production of approximately 1.6 t of polyethylene. Steam and electricity required for the process will be supplied by natural gas fired combined cycle cogeneration units (Cogen Units). The project includes all of the ancillary units needed to support a new standalone complex including effluent treatment, storage, logistics, cooling water facilities, emergency flares, buildings, and warehouses. Excess electricity produced by the cogeneration units at the project will be sold for distribution within the PJM grid for regional use.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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