Petrochemicals & Plastics

Schemes to produce plastics from fracked gas have largely failed in Appalachia.

Petrochemical development hasn’t generated economic prosperity in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, research shows, and market headwinds make new buildout unlikely. Learn more about the Ohio River Valley Institute’s research on the petrochemicals industry below.

Photo: Shell’s petrochemicals complex in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Mark Dixon, 2022

“Years ago, the oil and gas industry predicted petrochemical development would sweep across Appalachia, creating tens of thousands of jobs. 

Those plans largely fizzled.” 



Updated: A Cautionary Tale of Petrochemicals from Pennsylvania

Beaver County, home to Shell Polymers Monaca, still lags Pennsylvania and the nation in key economic indicators, data show.

A Cautionary Tale of Petrochemicals from Pennsylvania

Beaver County, Pennsylvania has fallen behind the state and the nation in nearly every measure of economic activity since the Shell petrochemicals complex was announced in 2012, data show.

Poor Economics for Virgin Plastics

A convergence of market forces casts a dark shadow over the financial outlook of petrochemical development in Appalachia.

Updated Economics for Virgin Plastics

The global petrochemical industry is facing a severe “cycle low,” raising doubts about the viability of new development and the profitability of Shell’s new Pennsylvania ethane cracker.

Risks for New Natural Gas Development in Appalachia

Higher prices are needed to save Appalachian natural gas, but the industry faces pressure from decarbonization and uncertain petrochemical markets.

 All research on Petrochemicals & Plastics:

Revisiting Pennsylvania’s Bad Bet

Revisiting Pennsylvania’s Bad Bet

The Shell Polymers Monaca petrochemicals complex shadowing the banks of the Ohio River in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, has become something of a symbol in Appalachia. To the many families nearby, it represents a constant, draconic threat, belching episodic flames,...

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2023 in Review

2023 in Review

Together, a more prosperous, sustainable, and equitable Appalachia is possible. That’s the vision that has geared our data-driven research, guided our outreach and campaigns, and grounded our work in the region’s community and culture ever since the Ohio River Valley...

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Measuring the ‘Cost’ of a Disaster

Measuring the ‘Cost’ of a Disaster

A lot has happened since ORVI originally published our post on the disastrous toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Cleanup efforts are still underway by the railroad operator, Norfolk Southern, but they have raised new questions about the safe transport of...

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