Beaver County is preparing for Shell Oil to move forward with its plan to build an ethane cracker plant in the area. The plant will provide up to 10,000 construction jobs alone.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been monitoring any major concerns that arise and Shell wants to be proactive in addressing any environmental hazards.
Ron Schwartz, assistant regional director for the DEP’s southwestern district has had many conversations with Shell since the company announced the cracker plant construction. “They’re not just asking what’s required, they’re asking what’s best,” Schwartz said in regard to environmental protection. “It’s very unusual. We don’t usually get that from a company.”
There is a lot of environmental work to be done on site at the new location for the cracker plant which currently has violations related to air and water. The DEP is negotiating on how to resolve these violations.
Construction on the cracker plant is set to begin in 2 years.
With natural gas prices dropping to record lows, liquids have become more desirable since they tend to follow oil prices and have stayed afloat. Other firms are scouting locations for petrochemical operations throughout the Marcellus region.
Shell saw its North American gas production rise 62 percent from 2008 to 2009, added 1.3 million acres of gas acreage in North American in 2010, but the cracker plant could prove more influential that the company’s substantial acreage.