Pennsylvania is competing with Ohio and West Virginia for the location of a Shell petrochemical plant that, according to one report, will bring 10,000 construction jobs, hundreds of full-time plant jobs, and thousands of additional spin-off jobs to the winner.
“The chemical industry association ACC [American Chemistry Council] has done studies that estimate a ‘multiplier effect’ of 5.5 for induced and indirect jobs,” wrote Kayla Macke, media relations coordinator for Shell.
The plant will tap into the natural gas and liquids from the Marcellus Shale, which lies beneath the western and the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. Through a cracking process, the plant will convert natural gas liquids to other chemicals, including ethylene — one of the building blocks for plastics and other synthetics.
A Department of Community and Economic Development spokesman said the office was working “vigorously” with Shell officials to encourage them to pick Pennsylvania.
“We are working on the state level and with local economic development groups as part of the process,” said DCED Press Secretary Steve Kratz.
When asked whether that meant the groups were putting together an incentive package that would include possible locations for the plant, Kratz said the administration preferred not to go into details while talks were ongoing.
“We feel, though, that the governor’s commitment to position Pennsylvania as a pro-business state is a powerful message to Shell and others that this is the place to do business.”
Shell’s interest in building the plant brings other good news as well, according to Geoffrey Styles, a well-respected consultant to the oil and gas industries.
“Shell is very meticulous in its planning,” Styles said. “And wouldn’t be considering this magnitude of a plant unless they really believed supplies would be there for the long term.”
Macke wrote that in addition to the cracker plant, Shell is looking into building a polyethylene unit — or two — at the site.
“We are now also considering including a mono-ethylene glycol unit as we have a strong technological position in this as well as a being a market leader in MEG. We expect growth for MEG in the North American market in the coming years. End uses for MEG fall broadly into three categories: fibers (polyester, fleece fabric, upholstery, carpets, etc.), PET (plastic drink and food containers, bags, etc.), and automotive products (engine coolants and anti-freeze),” she wrote. — J.L.K. •