After first acquiring an option agreement in 2012 for a 340-acre site, and then purchasing the site in 2014, Shell Chemical Appalachia has officially announced that it will build a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant on the site of the former Horsehead zinc smelter in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The site will consist of the cracker, two units that will convert ethylene into polyethylene pellets, a natural gas-fired power plant, a loading dock, and a wastewater plant. It is estimated that constructing the plant will employ approximately 6,000 workers. Thereafter, the plant will permanently employ about 600 workers. The plant is expected to consume approximately 105,000 barrels of ethane per day and Shell has reportedly secured supplier commitments from at least 10 oil and gas operators in the region. Primary construction on the site is expected to start in approximately 18 months.
Horsehead Holding Corp. (Horsehead) announced Monday that it closed on the sale of its former zinc smelter to Shell Chemical (Shell), which is the proposed site for an ethane cracker plant in Beaver County. Although Shell has not made a final decision on whether to build the cracker plant, it has been considering the Horsehead property as a site for the plant, which would convert ethane, a component of natural gas, into polyethylene. Shell is moving forward with developing the site, having demolished the smelter plant and relocated power lines. Shell indicated that this is a necessary step in the plans to acquire permits and continue development of the site.
According to the Tribune Review, Reliance Industries, an Indian conglomerate with ties to the Marcellus Shale, plans to ship 1.5 million tons of ethane annually from the United States. Reliance has invested with Carrizo Oil and Gas Inc. and Chevron in the region, but the company’s spokesperson did not identify which shale sources will provide the ethane for shipment. According to the report, the announcement has sparked interest and potential competition for supplies with plants under consideration in the region.
As Reported by MetroNews on March 26, the proposed Wood County, West Virginia, petrochemical “Cracker” plant project, called Project Ascent, took a significant step forward on Wednesday with an announcement from Antero Resources that it would contribute 30,000 barrels of ethane per day to the proposed plant, which represents approximately one half of the ethane needed to operate the plant. The proposed Cracker plant will use ethane to manufacture polyethylene, which is used to making various plastics. Further information on the agreement between Antero and Ascent is expected to be announced on Wednesday, March 26, at the West Virginia Manufacturers Association’s Marcellus to Manufacturing Ethane Development Conference being held at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia.
The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that the Beaver County Board of Commissioners and representatives from Royal Dutch Shell met to discuss the next planning steps for the proposed cracker plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Although the meeting did not result in a final decision as to whether the company will build the plant, the commissioners and representatives discussed relocating a portion of a highway, power lines, a rail line and developing a dock. Shell began demolition activities at the former Horsehead site in February. It has also begun to secure feedstock supply for the plant by securing agreements with CNX Gas Co. LLC, Hilcorp Energy Co., Noble Energy Inc. and Seneca Resources Corp.
As reported in the Pittsburgh Business Times, the proposed ethane cracker plant near Parkersburg, West Virginia, could potentially have a multi-billion dollar positive effect on the state’s economy. Emeritus Professor of Economics Tom S. Witt of West Virginia University authored a report, entitled “Building Value from Shale Gas: The Promise of Expanding Petrochemicals in West Virginia,” wherein he analyzed the short and long term impact of the proposed facility on West Virginia’s economy. Based upon the conclusions of Professor Witt’s report, the construction and operation of the proposed ethane cracker plant could generate a total of 19,710 jobs, representing employee compensation of $1.047 Billion and total economic output of $2.261 Billion. Professor Witt, in his report and in an interview with the Charleston Daily Mail, gives specific policy and legislative recommendations for West Virginia to successfully attract large scale projects, such as the ethane cracker.
West Virginia’s Ohio River region is one step closer to seeing construction begin on a cracker plant in the Wood County area. According to the Charleston Gazette, Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise, owned by Brazilian based Odebrecht, purchased the SABIC Plastics Innovations facility in Wood County for approximately $11 million. The “Ascent” complex, once it is complete, will include three polyethylene plants in addition to the ethane cracker plant and associated infrastructure. The SABIC plant is anticipated to continue operations until 2015 making the timeline for constructing and opening the ethane cracker facility unknown.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that Horsehead Corp. and Shell Chemical LP have extended their land option agreement for a third time, giving Shell more time to decide whether it will build an ethane cracker on the site of Horsehead’s Beaver County Pennsylvania smelter. Unlike the previous two extensions, the expiration date of the third extension is confidential. The third extension also includes a provision that Horsehead will soon begin demolition activities at the site and that Shell will cover the expenses. Horsehead and Shell first entered into a land option agreement in March 2012.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Shell Chemical, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, has begun to solicit ethane commitments from Marcellus Shale operators for its proposed Beaver County, Pennsylvania cracker plant. The company has already secured commitments from CONSOL Energy Inc., Noble Energy Inc., Seneca Resources Corp. and Hilcorp Energy Co. Shell has indicated that the response from bidders will help to determine whether it will build the first world-scale cracker plant in the Marcellus region. The bidding period will last two months.
The Beaver County Commissioners have approved the creation of a 325-acre tax-exempt zone aimed at enticing Shell to proceed with the construction of an ethane cracker plant in the region. According to one commissioner, “It’s an important piece of the puzzle, but it still doesn’t guarantee a final decision.” Not only would Shell be exempt from property taxes, but also, its earned income, net profits, business privilege, and mercantile taxes would be abated. Read more here.