Dating back to 2012, Beaver County, Penn. knew there would be a construction boom on the horizon after the Shell Oil Company announced plans to build an Ethane Cracker plant along the Ohio River.
Once completed, the plant will convert natural gas pulled from the Marcellus Shale region into ethylene and then into plastics. The state of Pennsylvania offered a 25-year tax incentive package in encourage Shell to select the Pennsylvania site. Shell Energy North America never officially announced the project’s total costs, but industry experts have reported to total cost could reach about $6 billion.
The project will require thousands of construction workers from multiple trades, putting stress on union trades leaders to provide the needed manpower.
HFIAW Local 2 Business Manager Jim Cassidy and the Pittsburgh Regional and Pennsylvania Building Trades have been involved with the project from the beginning. “We have been to all of the permit meetings, meetings with politicians and meetings with Shell. This is a big job for our Local and for the region and we want to make sure everything is done right” said Cassidy.
Road usage and moving earth to prepare the site for the project started in 2015 with construction on the site beginning in 2017. In 2018, there were two of the largest cranes in the world on the job site. The largest of the pair sits 700 feet high and can lift over 3,500 tons at one time.
Currently, there are about 100 Insulators on the job. The project is 4:1 Mechanics to Apprentice, teaching the next generation of Insulators what it takes to complete one of the largest projects in the region.
“Being able to produce quality manpower to our contractors will always be a priority” said Cassidy. “We have been working for years to secure manpower and supply the need for when we peak around 800 Insulators in early 2020.
“We will be at peak capacity for about a year and we have already solidified the maintenance agreement. This means work for now and well into the future” Cassidy said.
Though production and gas output from the site is still a few years out, the location’s anticipated impact is making polyethylene more cost-effective for customers within a 700-mile radius
from the site.