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After years of speculation, Shell announced June 7 it has officially committed to building a sprawling petrochemical facility in Beaver County, PA, near Pittsburgh.
The highlight of the multi-billion dollar project is a cracker plant that will convert ethane (procured from nearby Marcellus and Utica basin gas producers) into more than 1.6 million tonnes of poyethylene per year. Polyethylene is a major component of thousands of everyday plastics products.
Shell said that major construction will begin in 18 months (roughly December 2017), and it expects the facility to be producing commercial quantities of polyethylene “early in the next decade.”
The project will involve more than 6,000 construction workers — and thanks to the hard work of contractors, building trades locals and local employer organizations (LEOs), the bulk of those jobs will go to highly skilled union contractors and craftworkers. The petrochemical giant has already signed two project labor agreements with local unions.
“If we can man it with everybody from here, it will be manned with everybody from here,” Michael McDonald, president of Beaver County Building & Construction Trades Council and a local Laborers business manager, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.