US Appalachian petrochemical project

Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex

Project scope


Supporting technology

Environment & society

Investing in existing assets

In Asia, we successfully upgraded our Singapore ethylene cracker complex , bolstering Shell’s largest refining-chemicals integrated site. The project on Bukom Island has boosted production of ethylene by more than 20%. Every tonne of ethylene made now uses 7% less energy and produces 11% less CO2 emissions. 

Our plans for to increase capacity at our Jurong Island petrochemicals facilitiesare progressing well. Once completed, they are expected to add 140,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of high-purity ethylene oxide (HPEO) capacity, 140,000 tpa of ethoxylation capacity and more than 100,000 tpa of polyols capacity.

In the US, our manufacturing site at Geismar, Louisiana is already one of the largest integrated ethylene oxide (EO) and ethoxylation facilities in the world. We are considering plans to debottleneck the existing assets.

In Europe, our investment in our Wesseling facility to improve energy efficiency and boost production volumes has lowered stack temperatures, reduced fuel consumption, and enabled the upgraded 2A steam cracker to produce 15% more ethylene, propylene, C4 and pygas. 

Investing in new growth platforms

In the US, Shell is assessing the commercial feasibility of a chemicals plant in the Appalachian region. This could include a cracker to upgrade locally-produced Marcellus shale gas and a polyethylene unit to serve customers in the north-east of the US.

US Appalachian petrochemical project

In June 2011, Shell announced plans to assess the building of a world-scale petrochemical complex in the US Appalachian region that would upgrade locally-produced ethane from shale gas production.

On March 15, 2012 Shell Chemical LP signed a land option agreement to evaluate a site in the US Appalachian region for the potential petrochemical complex. The site is located in Potter and Center Townships in Beaver County near Monaca, Pennsylvania.

Shell looked at various factors to select the preferred site. These included:

  • good access to liquids-rich natural gas resources and water;
  • road and rail transportation infrastructure;
  • power grids;
  • economics;
  • sufficient land to accommodate facilities for a world-scale petrochemical complex and potential future expansions.

This positive development marks another phase as Shell continues to assess the commercial feasibility of a petrochemical complex in the Appalachian region. The next steps for this project include additional site evaluation, further engineering design studies, assessment of local ethane supply, and continued evaluation of the economic viability of the project.

In addition to an ethane cracker, Shell is also considering polyethylene (PE) units to help meet increasing demands in the North American market. We anticipate that much of the PE production would be used by industries in the northeastern US.

We look forward to working with the communities in Pennsylvania and the gas producers across Appalachia as we continue with our efforts to develop the proposed petrochemical complex.

Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex

Project scope

The main products produced by the Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex include:

  • Ethylene – 800,000 tonnes per annum
  • Propylene – 450,000 tonnes per annum
  • Benzene – 230,000 tonnes per annum
  • Butadiene - 155,000 tonnes per annum
  • Mono-ethylene glycol – 810,000 tonnes per annum


Singapore is already Shell’s largest petrochemical production and export centre in the Asia Pacific region. Investments in the Singapore petrochemicals industry by Shell companies include a polyols plant, a joint-venture styrene monomer and propylene oxide plant (Ellba Eastern Ltd) and a number of other joint ventures.

The new ethylene cracker is located on Pulau Bukom (Bukom Island), to the south of mainland Singapore. The Shell Bukom refinery is the largest Shell refinery in the world in terms of crude distillation capacity, making Singapore a key regional supply and trading centre for the Shell Group. Some 90% of Bukom's products are exported to countries in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Jurong Island is to the west of Pulau Bukom and is linked to Bukom via undersea pipelines.

A key reason for building this project in Singapore is to capture the integration benefits of locating a world-scale cracker near a large refinery. It opens up numerous opportunities for optimisation of feedstocks, including crude and condensate, as well as intermediate streams within the refinery.

Supporting technology

The MEG plant utilises Shell’s proprietary OMEGA process. In October 2008 this process won the Sellafield Ltd Award for Engineering Excellence at the IChemE (Institution of Chemicals Engineers) Innovation and Excellence Awards. In December 2008, OMEGA was a finalist in the engineering project of the year category at the Platts Energy Awards and in 2009, was a finalist for commercial technology of the year in the same competition.

The OMEGA process for ethylene oxide/MEG conversion is Shell’s newest technology and combines a CRI high selectivity catalyst for the conversion of ethylene to ethylene oxide (EO) with a catalytic process to convert EO to ethylene glycol.

In the conventional ethylene oxide/glycol process, ethylene reacts with pure oxygen at the ‘front end’ to produce ethylene oxide, producing CO2 as a by-product. There is some distillation to clean off the EO and then it moves to the ‘back end’ glycol section. A lot of water is used to react EO not only into MEG but also into by-products like diethylene glycol (DEG) and triethylene glycol (TEG).

The new OMEGA process in the ‘back end’ glycol section uses a circulating stream of CO2 to convert EO into ethylene carbonate, which is then reacted with water to produce MEG with almost no by-products.

The key to OMEGA's breakthrough lies in its combination of two complementary and highly selective processes which result in by far the lowest consumption of ethylene per tonne of MEG achieved so far in the industry. Other advantages include lower energy and water consumption, thus resulting in lower waste water production.

MEG and Shell

Shell companies have a long history in the manufacture of MEG with strengths in process technology, proprietary catalyst technologies, and manufacturing and marketing. Shell’s EO catalysts are sold to third parties and have a global market share of about 55%, while its EO/EG technology is licensed.

Environment & society

An Environmental, Social and Health Assessment (ESHA) study was commissioned, before construction work started on the site. The results were published in June 2006 and shared with the Singapore government.

Singapore complex ESHA study

As the project design was finalised, as part of the detailed engineering, an Addendum to the ESHA was carried out. It was completed in October 2007 and the results shared with the Singapore Government. The results are also available here.

Singapore complex ESHA Addendum October 2007

The SEPC team has also worked with the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) who held discussions with many NGOs on various aspects of the project that might impact the environment.

For example, when it emerged that work to reclaim land for the project was going to affect coral growing on the nearby reef, an exercise was undertaken to relocate the coral to a safe location. Reclamation methods have also been modified to minimise siltation and damage to corals near the reclamation area.

Construction activity at SEPC has employed up to 15,000 people at its peak. Once the complex is operational, it will require the support of around 200 highly skilled staff.

Developing safety skills

In 2008, SEPC sponsored a unique, tailor-made training scheme to recruit and train people for health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) related roles, with the first intake of 60 candidates starting their programmes in September 2008.

The candidates have worked at sub-projects across the SEPC sites and trained on-the-job as they have worked towards an internationally recognised NEBOSH certificate. The programme represents a significant investment to develop quality HSSE people in a fast track learning environment and supports Shell’s sustainable development goals by promoting the professionalism of safety supervisors and a proactive safety culture in Singapore.