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Shell Pennsylvania petchems project 70% complete, operational in 2022: spokesman

Highlights

Previously projected to start up in first half of 2021

Complex includes three polyethylene plants with total capacity of 1.6 million mt/year

New York — Shell Chemical's $6 billion petrochemical complex in Pennsylvania is now more than 70% complete and projected to be operational sometime in 2022, a company spokesman said March 12.

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"On a daily basis workers are commissioning major pieces of equipment within our infrastructure units – a phased process that will continue until start-up" said the spokesman, Curtis Smith, in an email. "That includes connecting pipes and wiring that will eventually loop and extend for hundreds of miles along the site's 386 acres," he said.

The petchems complex in Monaca, northwest of Pittsburgh, is expected to be completed in 2022, Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden said in February. Previously, Shell projected the startup in the first half of 2021 after suspending work in mid-March 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic concerns.

The project is one of the largest construction sites in North America and includes a 1.6 million mt/year cracker and three polyethylene plants with a combined capacity of 1.6 million mt/year, according to Shell.

Portions of the site's water treatment facility are also being commissioned and the site's 250 megawatt power plant will soon follow, Smith said.

"Production units (an ethane cracker and three polyethylene units) will come online after the power plant," he said.

Shell reported a $4.478 billion loss in Q4 2020, down from a $871 million profit in the year-ago quarter. For the year, the company reported a $19.9 billion loss, compared to a $15.27 billion profit in 2019. Shell's chemical segment reported $367 million in earnings for the quarter, up from a $79 million loss in the year-ago period. Annual chemical earnings reached $808 million, up 69% from $479 million in 2019, reflecting higher prices in the fourth quarter on lower volumes in the pandemic environment.