The business opportunities presented by Pennsylvania’s vast Marcellus Shale supply continue to attract suitors, as today, Shell Oil Company announced that they have signed an agreement for a “cracker petrochemical plant” in Beaver County.
The energy company is analyzing the production capabilities of opening a complex that would produce gas that can be converted into household products on a site located in Potter and Center Townships. The company calls it another step in the right direction, as “Shell continues to assess the commercial feasibility” of “cracking” locally produced ethane gas.
Shell’s ongoing evaluation of the site accounts for a wide variety of factors, including, adequate road and rail infrastructure, room for expansion, and obviously a rich natural gas supply.
“This is an important step for the project, and we look forward to working with the communities in Pennsylvania, and gas producers across Appalachia, as we continue our efforts to develop a petrochemical complex,” said Dan Carlson, the General Manager of New Business Development at Shell Chemicals.
In a statement, Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber called the interest from Shell a “win-win for the region’s workforce and economy” and praised Governor Corbett’s role in making it happen.
“This announcement is further indication of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Governor Corbett’s continued work to responsibly develop the Marcellus and expand broad-based economic benefits for all,” said Klaber.
The Governor signed the legislation in mid-February that along with instituting additional environmental regulations on drilling, gave counties the option of instituting lucrative drilling fees.
Politicians were quick to claim credit including the Governor himself, who by all accounts did whatever was necessary to bring the plant to Pa. The statements came from Republicans and Democrats and even featured some Democrats praising Gov. Corbett for getting the deal done.
“For several months, I have been actively engaged and working with Shell officials, as have members of my cabinet, to get Pennsylvania to this point in the process,” said Corbett. “Shell now knows what we all do; Pennsylvania is ideal for this project. Not only do we sit atop the richest known reserves of natural gas in the world, but we have a world class workforce, an expansive transportation network including rail, roads and air, excellent education institutions and a thriving quality of life here in Pittsburgh. We are still early in the process, but my administration is determined to see this project through to completion. The benefits to the state’s southwest and to all of Pennsylvania are immense. The Shell plant would, if constructed, have the potential to be the single largest industrial investment in the region in at least a generation. Projects of this scale are important as Pennsylvania seeks to develop a market for its natural gas supply and to create new jobs and the prosperity that comes with them.”
Sen. Casey, had the following to say about the site selection: “Bringing Shell to Beaver County will mean significant job creation and economic growth for all of southwest Pennsylvania. The new cracker plant in Beaver County will mark Pennsylvania as the country’s natural gas leader – that is why I fought hard to bring the plant to our state. Earlier this year I wrote a letter to Shell urging the company to bring this job-creating plant to our area. I’m pleased to hear that Shell is taking the steps to make this happen and I look forward to continuing to work with Shell in the coming weeks and months as this process moves forward.”
Sen. Casey sent a letter to the Shell company urging them to pick Pennsylvania over Ohio and West Virginia.
Jason Altmire, whose district includes parts of Beaver County said the following: “We always knew that Beaver County presented the best option for Shell to build the plant, and we are pleased that they have made this initial decision. If Shell’s final decision is to locate this facility in Beaver County, it would be the largest industrial new start in western Pennsylvania in decades.
“Beaver County offers the perfect location for this growing industry – access to water, rail, chemical manufacturers, natural gas, and skilled workers. All levels of government, community leaders, and the private sector have joined forces to promote western Pennsylvania as the best location for this new facility. This announcement is proof that when we work together, great things will happen for our region. I will continue to aggressively work to bring these types of jobs and economic development projects to Beaver County and our region, and look forward to continuing to work with all parties as Shell finalizes its plans for this specific project.”
Altmire also touted the letter he sent to the President of Shell pushing for Western Pa. to be picked for this “cracker” site.
Congressman Tim Murphy had the following to say about the announcement: “This is great news for Southwestern Pennsylvania’s working families and our economic future. Job creation in our region will soon leap forward. The plant construction jobs will require highly skilled professionals trained to use sophisticated modern equipment for this long-term building project. But building the plant isn’t just a one-time boost to our economy. There will be new jobs in engineering, manufacturing, chemistry, and energy for decades to come. Local companies will be looking to hire hundreds of truck drivers, tugboat operators, and railroad workers. By expanding the use and development of our Marcellus and Utica gas resources we can continue fueling our economic growth. This is a tremendous opportunity that will yield economic benefits for future generations of Pennsylvania families.”
Congressman Mike Kelly even released a statement about the Shell announcement, “Today’s announcement by Shell is a great day for all Pennsylvanians and further validation that the Commonwealth’s rich natural resources, coupled with our tremendous human resources, make the Keystone State a great place to do business. Shell’s decision to choose Pennsylvania over Ohio and West Virginia affirms what we already know: the best days in PA are still ahead of us if we continue to create a climate for growth through investment-friendly policies that will attract new business and harness the vast supplies of energy sources God has so greatly blessed us with.”
House Majority Leader Turzai welcomed the news in his statement: ““This is just great news for western Pennsylvania. This means good-paying, family-sustaining jobs may be coming right here, in our part of the state. Our priority has always been improving Pennsylvania’s jobs climate. And the key to doing that is private sector job growth. Our EmployPA legislative package has been integral to changing Pennsylvania’s perception to job creators. It is helping make the Commonwealth more economically competitive, enticing more businesses, like Shell, to locate and stay in Pennsylvania.”
Turzai went on to say that the expansion of Keystone Oppurtunity Zones was crucial to Shell picking Pa. He said, “KOZs work – they attract employers and rebuild run-down or underused areas. The Shell announcement is tangible evidence that Pennsylvania is once again ready to compete for jobs as the economy continues to recover. But we have more work to do to create a competitive tax and regulatory climate that keeps us at the forefront of business expansions and relocations.”
Finally, Turzai said the Shell decision was the result of the state House Republican agenda, which he claims has been pro-growth through deregulation and incentives for businesses to come to Pa.
State Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa welcomed the decision and even praised Gov. Corbett, saying, “Shell Oil Company’s decision to invest in putting such a lucrative and valuable resource in the community is a major victory. The economy will benefit, and Western Pennsylvania will continue to thrive. The marketability of the Monaca area is undeniable, and I applaud the governor’s and the community’s efforts to land such a valuable enterprise and bring home the benefits this plant will provide for generations to come.”
“I especially want to commend Governor Tom Corbett and his economic team for their efforts in securing this economic development project for Pennsylvania. Kudos to all who worked to bring this home and make it happen.”