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Shell Chemicals is moving forward with plans to build an ethylene cracker and polyethylene complex in Monaca, Pa., an Ohio River town about 50 km from Pittsburgh. The facility will have about 1.6 million metric tons of polyethylene capacity per year. Shell expects construction to begin within the next 18 months, with operations to start up early in the next decade. Most of the dozen cracker complexes that the petrochemical industry is planning to take advantage of low-cost shale-based gas are to be located on the Gulf Coast. However, Shell says this plant will have easy access to nearby shale deposits. Moreover, the company says, 70% of North American polyethylene customers are located within a 1,200-km radius of Pittsburgh.
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