Shell Chemical Appalachia, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, has completed installation of a 285ft tall quench tower at its Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex.

Shell Potter Township Pennsylvania Complex

Image: Construction in progress at the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex. Photo: courtesy of PRNewsfoto/Shell.

Currently, under construction in Potter Township in the US state of Pennsylvania, the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex has been designed to produce 1.6 million tons of polyethylene per annum. For this, the petrochemical plant will process low-cost ethane sourced from shale gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica basins.

Shell said that the heavy lift of the quench tower taken up recently, marked an important milestone in the new petrochemical project.

Weighing close to 2,000 tonnes, the quench tower took three and a half weeks for its towing across the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, said the oil and gas major. After reaching Pennsylvania, the quench tower of the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex was unloaded onto a dock and transported down a newly-created road, which were both designed specifically to handle the large size of the structure.

Shell said that it has also erected two of three reactors associated with the planned polyethylene units ever since it began main construction on the Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in November 2017.

An underground pipe of around 24km for the cooling, firewater and drainage systems has also been laid as part of the petrochemical project.

The Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, which is being constructed on the banks of the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, will create 6,000 construction-related jobs and about 600 permanent roles upon its completion. Bechtel is the Main Works Contractor (MWC) for construction of the petrochemical project.

Shell global chemicals business executive vice president Graham van’t Hoff said: “Eleven months into main construction, I’m delighted with the progress we’re making in Pennsylvania.

“It’s great to see our world-class complex taking shape. The project is providing more economic opportunities in Pennsylvania and the region.”

The Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, which is slated to achieve commercial operations beginning early next decade, will feature an ethylene cracker with three polyethylene units and an OSBL including a 250MW gas-fired combined cycle cogeneration unit.

While the ethane cracker of the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex will have an average capacity of about 3.3 billion pounds of ethylene per year, the three polyethylene units will have a combined production capacity of around 3.5 billion pounds per year.