Shell Chemical picks PA site for massive plant

Shell Chemical LP says it "signed a land option agreement with Horsehead Corporation to evaluate a site" near Monaca, Beaver County, north of Pittsburgh, for "a potential petrochemical complex" including "an ethane cracker that would upgrade locally produced ethane from Marcellus Shale gas production."

The plant, if it gets built, will be an extensive long-term investment that would help create thousands of long-term industrial jobs, improving on the short-term drilling jobs that recent gas production has brought to parts of depressed Northern and Western Pennsylvania.

The committment, which PA Gov. Tom Corbett has been courting in competition with sites in Ohio and West Virginia, marks "another phase" of Shell's site investigation. Still to come: "additional environmental analysis... further engineering design studies, assessment of the local ethane supply, and continued evaluation of the economic viability of the project."

Shell considered access to natural gas, "water, road and rail transportation infrastructure, power grids, economics, and sufficient acreage to accommodate facilities for a world scale petrochemical complex and potential future expansions." Didn't mention tax or regulatory regimes.

"In addition to an ethane cracker, Shell is also considering polyethylene (PE) and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) units to help meet increasing demands in the North American market" for use by industry in the Northeast US. Statement here.

Update: $1 billion investment, 10,000 jobs, Corbett tells Post-Gazette. More here.