Manufacturers share gameplan for Southwestern Pennsylvania ‘renaissance’ at shale summit |

Manufacturers share gameplan for Southwestern Pennsylvania ‘renaissance’ at shale summit

Stephen Huba
Jason Norris (second from left), president of Dura-Bond Industries in Export, speaks Thursday, March 30, 2017, at the Westmoreland County Shale Summit about the pipe manufacturer’s expanding business. With him (from left) are Andrew Kicinski, CEO of Reserve Environmental Services, Mike Storms of the Elliott Group in Jeannette, and David Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association. / Photo by Stephen Huba
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Ron Griffiths, of Harrison City heats up a coupler to be removed after successfully testing the impeller for perfect balance, at the Elliott Group's Jeannette factory, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016.

Construction of an ethane cracker plant in Beaver County could lead to a “renaissance” of manufacturing in Southwestern Pennsylvania, especially in the plastics and chemical sectors, officials said Thursday at a shale conference at Westmoreland County Community College.

“We’re part of a revolution here,” said Mike Storms, director of operations for engineered products at the Elliott Group in Jeannette.

The Elliott Group is building the turbines and compressors for the Beaver County facility and is bidding on a second cracker plant planned for Belmont County, Ohio, Storms said.

“This is the first major U.S. petrochemical complex to be built outside the Gulf Coast region in 20 years,” he told the Westmoreland County Shale Summit.

Thursday’s conference at WCCC’s Advanced Technology Center focused on education, employment and economic development opportunities related to Marcellus shale natural gas drilling.

Participants expressed optimism about those prospects but skepticism about state government’s ability to foster growth.

“It’s a tremendously exciting time, but it isn’t going to happen on its own,” said David Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association.

The Elliott Group, which employs 1,200 people in Westmoreland County, is building six large compressors and three large steam turbines for the Shell cracker plant. Storms said the contract represents 40,000 man-hours, not including 15,000 to 20,000 hours of engineering labor.

The Jeannette company also has submitted a bid to build five compressors and three steam turbines for the PTT Global Chemical cracker plant in Belmont County — one of three regional cracker plants that are in the planning stages.

Such facilities are used to process, or “crack,” natural gas liquids — ethane, butane, propane — for use in making plastics and other products. The Beaver County plant will use ethane from the Marcellus shale to produce up to 3.2 billion pounds of ethylene a year, Storms said.

Taylor said the result, once the plant begins production in 2020-21, could be a manufacturing boon for the region.

“Businesses have an actual economic reason to locate close to the source of the feedstock. It’s a competitive advantage,” he said.

The plant will mean 6,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs, as well as the potential for growth, Taylor said.

“With the ethane in the Marcellus shale, there is enough of a capacity for four more plants of that scale. Beaver County represents only 20 percent of the potential,” he said.

Those jobs will include 300 to 400 large equipment operators attached to the International Union of Operating Engineers, including 200 crane operators, said Steven Columbus, administrative manager of the IUOE’s training center in New Alexandria.

“It’s going to be tremendous work,” Columbus said. “It looks like a pretty good run for us in the near future.”

Other local construction projects that will draw from the IUOE pool include Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East 2 pipeline (500 operators), the Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station near Smithton (40 operators) and six more natural gas power plants planned for Western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, he said.

Sunoco Logistics community liaison Chris Koop said the Mariner East 2 pipeline will be built one section at a time and will create local jobs. The 306-mile natural gas pipeline, 36 miles of which will traverse Westmoreland County, received its final two permits from the state in February.

“What this project represents … is that their head is hitting their own pillow at night,” Koop said. “That’s an incredibly valuable thing — to be working on a project in your own backyard.”

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.