As Shell studies plant project, Beaver County officials wait with hope
No news is good news for everyone hoping oil giant Shell builds a petrochemical plant in Beaver County.
State, business and local officials said on Wednesday that they have not hit any stumbling blocks and have had only positive interactions with Shell executives in meetings in recent weeks and months. Shell leaders met with state officials two weeks ago and lauded them for their help and the support from local people, said C. Alan Walker, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
“I think they've liked everything they've seen about Pennsylvania,” Walker said after speaking at a gas industry research conference on Wednesday in Cecil. “I haven't heard any negatives.”
The project is 85-90 percent likely to happen, said Gene Pash, who runs an 80-acre business park in Ambridge from his New York offices. His real estate company is preparing for a flood of new companies to come from out of state if Shell fulfills its commitment to build the plant in Center and Potter townships, an announcement that could come early in 2013, he said.
“We do feel it's not a done deal, but it has a high potential,” said Pash, president of Value Ambridge Properties Inc., which owns Ambridge Regional Distribution & Manufacturing Center. “Every month that goes by where they don't say, ‘No,' takes it up another 5 percent.”
“It's premature to start talking in percentages,” Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon said. “We've had good conversations with officials, but we still need to confirm the suitability of the site.”
Company executives are evaluating everything from the supply of ethane that will feed the plant to state permits, customers, engineering plans and global competitiveness, she added.
The global company's chemical arm has a land deal with Horsehead Corp. and could build a plant to process ethane into raw plastic on the industrial site after the zinc company moves in 2014. The project would take several years and billions of dollars to build, employing as many as 10,000 construction workers and then 400 full-time workers, according to company and expert estimates.
State leaders and industry experts have touted the plant's spinoff potential, likely to generate billions of dollars of local spending and thousands more full-time jobs at gas companies that supply the plant, plastic companies that work with its products and other potential business partners. Shell is doing due diligence to decide whether and how big to build, and that now includes scouting for potential customers within 500 miles, Pash said.
Some experts have questioned the project, noting competition from similar projects on the Gulf Coast that are further along than Shell's. Other experts and Pennsylvania boosters claim the region's supply of shale gas and its expert labor and construction force will help the project happen.
The company has environmental advisers and engineers working constantly at the Horsehead site on the Ohio River even as the zinc smelter operates, County Commissioner Joe Spanik said. Local officials have met with a steady stream of Shell executives from Texas, Europe and even Asia visiting the site, they said.
Most of the meetings have been informational, they said. The next step is to get details on the site's footprint, so local elected officials can vote to approve a tax-free zone the state offered Shell, locals said.
“We're just in the watchful waiting mode right now,” Commissioner Tony Amadio said. “I feel good. We also feel things are progressing, moving forward each and every time we meet with them.”
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins trade Bortuzzo, pick for St. Louis defenseman Cole
- No franchise tag for Steelers’ Worilds
- Arrogant media elites mock Middle America
- Burial set for remains of World War II soldier from Perrysville
- Tax on shale-gas drillers would punish industry, Turzai says
- LaBar: Is Brock Lesnar leaving WWE again?
- Sales, income taxes increases expected in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget
- Long-term closures at Carnegie interchange on Parkway West to begin
- Shale drilling boom a bust for some Western Pennsylvania towns
- Rossi: Fitting in will be Kang’s biggest hurdle
- DA’s office examining complaint history of Strip District club