Potter Township in western Pennsylvania has granted a conditional use permit for a $6 billion petrochemical plant to be built by Shell Chemicals. The location was chosen because more than 70% of North American polyethylene customers are within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh, PA. More state and federal permits are required before construction can begin, which is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 2017.
The proposed complex, comprising an ethylene cracker with polyethylene derivatives unit, could begin commercial production early in the next decade. Shell Pipeline says that three new pipelines would also need to be constructed to support the plant. The complex will use low-cost ethane from shale gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica basins to produce 1.6 million tons of polyethylene per year.