Shell Picks Pittsburgh Area For Cracker Plant

The Pittsburgh area could see a huge economic boost now that Shell Oil Co. has chosen a site near Pittsburgh for a petrochemical refinery.  The company has signed a land option agreement with Horsehead Corp. to evaluate a site near Monaca, which is about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh near the Ohio and West Virginia borders.  All three states offered Shell major tax incentives to choose a location in their state, but its proximity to the borders means workers in all three states are likely to benefit.  Actual construction is still years away, however.  First come environmental and design studies, economic analysis and permits.  The plants have large storage tanks and miles of pipes which could cover several hundred acres when completed.   Shell will pour billions of dollars into building the plant, which would also attract a wide range of industry and suppliers to the area.  The American Chemistry Council estimated in a report last year that the new petrochemical complex could attract up to $16 billion in private investment and create thousands of construction jobs. Shell estimated the core plant could employ several hundred people.

The plant would convert ethane from Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids into other chemicals like ethylene. This process is called “cracking”, hence the nickname “cracker plant.”


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