Almost a full decade ago, an announcement was broadcasted that the “Shell cracker” construction and location were to begin in Monaca, Pennsylvania. Now in 2021, the project is beginning to go into operation — the company began “first fire” activities in a ramp-up to full production at the facility last week.
The Shell cracker, which uses Marcellus ethane as its raw material, will officially launch in 2022. However, the facility is currently undergoing its testing period. In a process called “steam blowing” Shell is testing and checking the plant’s steam piping system. Beaver County residents can expect to see clouds of white water vapor emerging from Shell Chemicals’ ethane cracker plant; the vapor is harmless water that will reap no negative repercussions. If passing near the plant, one might also hear testing-related noises.
This process is one of the final stretches of the long road Shell has been traveling since March 2012. According to management, this testing period will last through the end of June. To stay updated on the progress, you can find a video on the process on the Shell Pennsylvania Chemicals Facebook page. Once the testing is finalized and the T’s have been crossed, the site will develop ethylene to use in plastics manufacturing that will produce a myriad of products like automotive parts and food packaging.
This final stage of a large product is particularly important because of the efficiency and efficacy it will bring to the region. Slowly but surely, Pennsylvania’s energy infrastructure is growing. Facilities like this are crucial to supporting overall economic growth in the state.