The oil giant Shell on Tuesday gave the final go-ahead for construction of a major petrochemical complex in western Pennsylvania where ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shales will be used to make ethylene for the manufacture of plastics.
The long-awaited multi-billion-dollar plant will be built in Potter Township, Beaver County, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Shell said in a statement from its unit, Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC.
The location was chosen because of its proximity to gas supplies, creating shorter and more reliable supply chains than those for comparable facilities on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and because it will be within 700 miles of North American polyethylene customers, the company said.
Construction is expected to begin in about 18 months’ time, creating some 6,000 construction jobs, the company said. Commercial operation is due to begin “early in the next decade” and will employ about 600 people permanently. The operation is due to make 1.6 million tonnes a year of ethylene which is used in products ranging from food packaging to automotive parts.
Shell announced in June 2011 that it was considering the site because of its proximity to liquids-rich natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and its good transportation links.
The site was chosen over several competing locations in other states after Pennsylvania officials under former Gov. Tom Corbett offered Shell $66 million a year in tax breaks.
The current Governor, Tom Wolf, welcomed the project as a boost to the economy and a strong endorsement of Pennsylvania’s abundant natural gas resources.