A reader sent me this story from the Pittsburgh Business Times about the new ethane cracker being built in Pennsylvania. From the article:
Shell Chemicals' $6 billion ethane cracker being built in Beaver County [Pennsylvania] isn't just important to the tri-state region, it's also playing a big role in the U.S .petrochemical industry.
"That essentially is the beginning of the second wave" of ethane crackers, ...
The Potter Township plant made the list of 13 ethane crackers being built from 2017 until 2021 ...
"You'll see the biggest buildup in the U.S. petrochemical industry we have ever seen," [a spokesman] said. It's part of the estimated $85 billion a year in investment in the domestic petrochemical industry since 2010, a big change since the industry's downturn a decade ago.
What revived the petrochemical industry from stiff foreign competition? The shale boom that has lifted many parts of the country, including southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Shell cracker in Beaver County is scheduled to go online in the second half of 2021. That will come at a good time for the petrochemical industry, which is growing at a rate of about four world-class steam ethane crackers like the Shell plant a year.
Additional data points:
- ethane production has doubled since 2005 and is likely to grow another third by 2020
- already, 318 petrochemical projects worth a total of $185 billion since 2010
- the shale boom is likely to supply enough ethane for a second wave of crackers; will be lead by the Potter Township plant
And In Minnesota, This Beats Solar Panels
Meanwhile in Minnesota, being reported in Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal:
Emerson Automation Solutions is growing again in Minnesota, investing in plants in Chanhassen and Shakopee as it enjoys renewed strength from oil-industry customers.
The Star Tribune reports that the company will soon embark on a $14 million project in Chanhassen that will add another 80 workers to that location and convert 30,000 square feet of offices into more factory space. That follows a $10 million renovation project in Shakopee, where Emerson has hired 100 new workers.
The company, a division of St. Louis-based Emerson Electric Co., makes pressure, temperature, flow, level and wireless measurement instrumentation. It employs more than 2,400 people in Minnesota.
The company expanded into Shakopee in 2013 with a $70 million, 500-job facility, but work slowed shortly afterward as oil prices tumbled. (Emerson has a big chunk of the market for oil and gas monitoring equipment.) Prices since stabilized again at about $50 a barrel — not boom-era prices but enough to get customers spending on equipment again.