Shell Moves a Step Closer to PA Ethane Cracker Plant
A proposed Beaver County ethane cracker plant could make or break Gov. Tom Corbett’s economic record.
Despite being more than a year from a decision whether or not to build a Marcellus shale processing facility, Royal Dutch Shell plc has opened bidding for ethane suppliers for the proposed plant.
Shell currently has an option to buy on the Beaver County property of Horsehead Holding Corp. Horsehead Holding owns and operates a plant on the property that processes zinc metal, dust, and powder, as well as zinc oxide, from recycled sources, the company’s website said.
The news that Shell is looking for bids comes just four months after the Pittsburgh Business Times reported that speakers at Platts Pittsburgh Natural Gas and Petrochemical Forum were skeptical of whether or not the project would be completed.
The progress of the project is important for Gov. Corbett because he asserted in a statement that the plant would help to create a market for the state’s natural gas and a large amount of jobs in the state.
“We are beginning to see the scope and impact this project would have on Pennsylvania,” Corbett said. “Securing ethane suppliers will develop a market for the state’s natural gas supply, helping to create good-paying jobs for citizens statewide.”
If the project were not completed, it would be a blow to Corbett, who is campaigning on a message of job creation and growth.
In 2012, Corbett’s administration offered Shell a $1.65 billion incentive package including tax breaks to locate in Beaver County.
“If built, this project is projected to result in 10,000 construction jobs, at least 400 direct jobs and more than 10,000 jobs created in chemical and supply chain industries,” Corbett said. “The generational impact is why we are all dedicated to ensuring, once built, that this facility is successful.”
The results of the newly-opened bidding will add to an existing list of ethane providers that Shell has accumulated for the potential plant. Cannonsburg-based Consol Energy Inc., Noble Energy Inc., Hilcorp Energy Co. and Seneca Resources Corp. have signed on along with Shell to provide the plant with the ethane necessary for the cracker plant.
A cracker plant takes oil and gas and breaks them into smaller molecules using ethane.