If you’ve driven on the Beaver Valley Expressway lately, you’ve probably noticed something big under construction you could see from the highway. One of the largest construction projects in the country is going on in nearby Potter Township. Royal Dutch Shell is building a cracker plant that will be part of the process of refining crude oil and natural gas into petrochemical products.
About the Project
According to reports by the Observer-Reporter, this project has already brought lots of jobs to our area. More than 3,700 workers are a part of this giant construction project, and there could be up to 6,000 at a time working on the site.
And while the plant likely won’t be operational until the early 2020s, the impact of all those local jobs is already great for our community.
And the project itself is going well by all reports. Royal Dutch Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden told the Wall Street Journal that the project was ahead of schedule as of last fall, according to reporting by The Times.
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What Is An Ethane Cracker Plant?
Once Royal Dutch Shell’s new project is complete, about 600 people will be permanently employed, according to State Impact.
And what exactly will they be doing in the plant?
A cracker plant processes crude oil and gas to break the raw materials down. The process splits the hydrocarbon molecule into smaller, lighter components, according to Schlumberger’s Oilfield Glossary.
Specifically, the plant will be working to produce ethylene, which is a product used in manufacturing plastics.
But that’s not all that will be built on this site. According to recent reports from The Times, there will also be a facility called the Shell Polymers Innovation Center that will include an analytical lab and a testing lab. Shell will use this facility to “better collaborate with customers to improve products.”
Once it’s operational, the innovation center will employ about 60 people. Like the plant as a whole, the innovation center is expected to be operational early in the next decade, although Shell has not released specific dates.