With Plans to Open in 2022, Shell Cracker Plant Begins Hiring
LISBON, Ohio – Dakota Schreffler worked as a railroad conductor for two years, but the opportunities were sparse with no benefits or retirement.
Then, the 24-year-old from East Palestine happened to view a Facebook post about Thursday’s hiring event at the Columbiana County OhioMeansJobs offices for various positions at Royal Dutch Shell’s Petrochemical complex in Monaca, Pa.
Schreffler registered with OhioMeansJobs, filled out paperwork and a questionairre, and then spoke with a hiring manager. Within an hour, he had a new job as a rail mechanic overseeing maintainence of freight equipment and rail and tank cars.
“I needed to find somewhere where it’s concrete,” he says. “I have benefits, 401k, all those things which they offer here.”
Schreffler was one of several applicants offered positions from Petroleum Service Corp. pending a drug test and background check. Positions were open for rail administrators, CDL drivers, loaders, lab technicians and rail mechanics. About 53 attended the event during its first hour.
Petroleum Service is a Shell subcontractor that provides logistics services to the ethane processing plant, and plans to staff between 150 and 180 employees at peak capacity, said Jason Martin, the company’s regional operations manager.
He says there are 54 of his group currently on the worksite, where previous experience is not required.
“I think just just driving that confidence down to people that even if you don’t have experience in the petrochemical world, you may have other skill sets that we can mold into what we’re doing there,” Martin said.
Martin said starting wages are $17 to $19 an hour for entry-level positions at the 386-acre site in Beaver County.
“As folks get qualified or would be promoted into leadership positions, those wages would continue to go up,” he said.
For those hired, paid training consists of classroom instruction and regulatory training. There will be on-the-job training, shadowing a veteran employee.
Martin said he has been hiring for Petroleum Service Corporation the past six months, and will continue to conduct interviews over the next several months to a year to reach the peak employment. So far, he’s interviewed hundreds of potential candidates.
“After this initial work group that we’ve just hired, as we digest that wave and you get those folks trained up, then we’ll be looking to bring on additional folks thereafter,” he said.
Karl Wuttur, a charter bus driver who said he expects to be laid off at the end of the month, has his CDL license and applied to be part of the Petroleum crew.
“I live about seven and a half miles from the plant,” he said. “If I could get on full-time at that plant, I would just stay there.”
Should those coming an hour away or further apply for these jobs? It’s a decision Martin said should be pondered by each applicant.
“I typically see folks that will commute anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour,” he said. “Anything beyond that, it tends to be a struggle to have that family-life balance.”
Schreffler’s father works for Laborers’ Union Local 1058 out of Pittsburgh and was one of thousands constructing the Monaca plant.
“I’ve seen it basically when it was just dirt up to now,” Schreffler said. “So it’s been pretty crazy to watch. It’s impressive. It’s quite the place.”
Martin, who grew up in West Virginia seeing the abandoned coal mines, says the potential of the Shell cracker plant is quite a benefit to western Pennsylvania.
A 2020 study by Robert Morris University reports the complex will produce between $260 million and $846 million in annual economic activity – the net value of wages, benefits, and related spending – for Beaver County alone. The annual economic impact in the 10-county region that includes Lawrence County is projected at approximately $3.3 billion.
When fully staffed, the entire petrochemical complex is expected to employ 600 full-time workers. The plant, which converts ethane gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale plays into plastic feedstock, is to begin operations sometime this year.
“I think this is going to allow people’s children to remain in the area and have good opportunities,” Martin said.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.