On October 14, the Houston Chronicle reported that Shell’s Pennsylvania “plastics production complex,” better known as the ethane “cracker” plant, hit a major milestone. As Shell bragged in a slickly-produced video, workers on the site just finished the heavy lift of the plant’s quench tower.
As Shell explains, the plant will take ethane, the main component in natural gas, and break it down into polyethylene. That polyethylene will be sold as a feedstock for all types of products, from car parts to sports equipment to furniture. As part of the process, superheated cracked gas will enter the 285-foot-tall tower to be rapidly cooled and condensed. Waste products will be removed and some of the components of the gas will be separated out.
This project has its own dock and road that were specially built to bring in large components like this that are coming up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The world’s 5th-largest crane was on hand to lift the tower into place. Workers celebrated “going vertical” and how the changing skyline of the project highlights the growing nature of the region’s shale industry.
As the Houston paper noted, the cracker plant is the largest of its kind in the Northeast. It is important because the Northeast has historically lagged behind the Gulf Coast on “downstream” projects that make use of the available natural gas supplies. The Northeast is becoming more of a competitor with states like Texas and Louisiana now that we are building more of our own capacity. The project has also become a touchstone in the upcoming election, as it bolsters development of all kinds in Beaver County and the surrounding area.
Investments are pouring in from all over the world to make use of the abundant gas supplies in the Marcellus shale region. If you want a hand in producing that gas, the land experts at Cimmaron Land can help you find an opportunity. Give us a call at (412) 212-7517.