Shell Oil Company plans to build a multi-billion dollar ethane refinery in the Beaver County town of Potter, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh.
It is estimated the refinery would create more than 10,000 industry associated jobs and an equal number of construction jobs while the plant is built.
"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," said Gov. Tom Corbett. "The Shell plant would, if constructed, have the potential to be the single largest industrial investment in the region in at least a generation."
A Shell Chemical representative confirmed the petrochemical giant "signed a land option agreement with Horsehead Corporation to evaluate the region for a potential petrochemical complex. The complex will include an ethane cracker that would upgrade locally produced ethane from marcellus shale gas production."
"This positive development marks another phase as Shell continues to assess the commercial feasibility of a petrochemical complex in the Appalachian region. The next steps for this project include; additional environmental analysis, engineering design studies, assessment of the local ethane supply, and continued evaluation of the economic viability of the project, " the spokesman explained.
"We are very pleased to have signed this site option agreement," said Dan Carlson, General Manager, New Business Development at Shell Chemicals. "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."
Shell looked at various factors to select the preferred site, including good access to liquids rich natural gas resources, water, road and rail transportation infrastructure, power grids, economics, and sufficient acreage to accommodate facilities for a world scale petrochemical complex and potential future expansions, he explained.
In addition to an ethane cracker, Shell is also considering polyethylene and mono-ethylene glycol units to help meet increasing demands in the North American market.
While the Governor's office said they could not discuss the details of the incentive package due to a confidentiality agreement while negotiations continue, the state is offering tax credits for natural gas projects as well as multi-year tax breaks for companies that make large scale investments in the state's economy.