Shell in PA

Case Study


Shell Said Yes to PA.

On June 7, 2016, Royal Dutch Shell announced it was building a $6 billion chemical plant in Beaver County, located in western Pennsylvania. Four years in the making, this project was the result of the collective efforts between the Governor’s Action Team and two administrations working with Shell to reach the final decision. This game-changing plant will create thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania while expanding and creating market opportunities for downstream manufacturing and job creation.


Why PA?

Shell chose Pennsylvania due to three critical factors:

Abundant ethane.

With the largest unconventional gas play in the world by production, Pennsylvania has an abundance of natural gas resources. Our production increased more than 2,400% between 2005 and 2014, when it exceeded 4 trillion cubic feet and doubled the state's 2012 production. In 2016, the state’s gross natural gas production exceeded 5 trillion cubic feet, marking Pennsylvania the second-largest natural gas producer in the country for four straight years. Southwestern Pennsylvania’s shale natural gas resources contain high levels of ethane, a natural gas liquid (NGL) that Shell’s new plant will use to produce ethylene — a main feedstock for the plastics industry.

Proximity to 70% of their North American polyethylene customers.

Shell determined that 70% of their potential North American polyethylene customers lie within a 700-mile radius of their site in Beaver County, PA. Pennsylvania’s central Northeastern location is one of our strongest assets, placing companies within 500 miles of nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the Canadian population, and 4 of the 10 largest U.S. markets.

Intensive collaboration between state, regional, and local entities.

Shell’s decision to invest in Pennsylvania is a testament not only to our abundant ethane resources and proximity to key markets, but also to our government partnerships. Over a four-year period, various Pennsylvania entities across multiple administrations — including the PA Department of Community & Economic Development, the Governor’s Action Team, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, and local officials in Southwestern Pennsylvania — teamed up to work with Shell to finalize plans for this facility.


6,000 Construction Jobs | 600 Full-Time Permanent Jobs

Shell’s petrochemical plant will be located on a strategic site on the Ohio River in Beaver County in Western Pennsylvania. The project is projected to employ upwards of 6,000 during peak construction and is committed to 600 full-time positions in the future. The plant will process ethane into polyethylene for the plastics industry. This feedstock will be transported in pellet form to manufacturers prepared to transform them into a variety of plastics-based products including windows, siding, insulation, food packaging, diapers, adhesives, coatings, and more.

Community Preparation & Dialogue

To examine the anticipated long-term impact on surrounding communities and local governments, as well as across the state, the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Secretary Dennis Davin hosted a series of roundtable discussions with state and community leaders and business representatives to discuss how communities can leverage potential investments and development opportunities related to Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to build a new ethane cracker plant.

PA Natural Gas at a Glance
PA Natural Gas at a Glance


Pennsylvania has worked to ensure that our workforce is prepared to take advantage of the new opportunities the energy industry has presented in the last decade by creating quality workforce training programs and university collaborations that help current and new workers expand their skillsets.

According to Shell, future jobs at the plant will fall into three main categories:

Maintenance workers:

welders and machine operators- job-specific training

Operations workers:

two-year associates degree in process technology

Management workers:

four-year or graduate degree in chemical engineering

In the interim before the plant reaches full operation, programs like the ones below will help prepare our workers for the unique requirements of the new plant.

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s Chemical Engineering Program

In September 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced $2 million in funding for the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ) to help complete the campus’ new chemical engineering program aimed at ensuring career-ready candidates for emerging industries in the region. The expanded engineering program is expected to produce an additional 125 graduates a year, including 40 chemical engineers who will be qualified to work in the petrochemical industry in the region.

Beaver County Energy & Advanced Manufacturing Partnership
The Community College of Beaver County (CCBC)
Catalyst Connection

In the News

Since the final investment decision was announced in June 2016, development at the Shell site has continued to create media buzz. Check out a few of the headlines that have graced the pages of publications in the commonwealth and beyond.