While Governor Corbett and his administration continue to push for a cracker plant in Beaver County, citizens and officials in the southeastern borough of Marcus Hook look to revive an old Sunoco refinery for the use of shale drilling.
The Philadelphia suburb, comprised of about 2,400 citizens, was once a thriving town in the late 1800’s during Pennsylvania’s oil rush. The old refinery, built in 1892, was followed by the construction of a 300-mile pipeline that stretched across the state into western Pennsylvanian oil fields. That same refinery that employed hundreds of locals for over 100 years was forced to close down just this year due to increased overseas crude oil prices. Since then, the refinery has been saved by a joint venture between Sunoco and The Carlyle Group.
When looking for a way to save the refinery, county officials examined the key to get the factory back up and running. Energy analysis firm, IHS, did a study of the facility and came up with the answer: Marcellus Shale. The firm is looking into ways of converting the old oil refinery into a natural gas processing plant, in particular, a plant that could process natural gas, in liquid form, to be used to make plastics.
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer will do what he can to aid in the process of enticing investors to support the project. “We as the Department of Environmental Protection will work hand in glove, very closely, cooperatively and spiritedly with anyone who would want to particpate in activities at this facility,” Krancer said to reporters at a news conference last week.
One of the more major obstacles that stands in the way of a quick revival is that the current pipeline system travels from east to west. Natural gas would have to come from western Pennsylvania to eastern Pennsylvania. Officials would have to decide whether to build all new pipelines or reverse the flow. The ideas are still in the early stages, perhaps giving decision-makers more time to figure how, and if, this revival attempt will work.