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Shell to build petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania

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Shell Oil has tentatively chosen to put a new multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania to take advantage of an abundance of natural gas from the Marcellus shale. Both Ohio and West Virginia had tried hard to woo the company.

Shell said it has signed an option on land in Potter and Center townships in Beaver County about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. It said the site offers good access to transportation by water, rail and road as well as access to natural gas and gas liquids that the petrochemical complex would use both as a power source and feedstock.

The plant would be one of the first located because of the boom in shale gas production, which has taken place in the past two to three years. On March 7, Dow Chemical said its board had approved the construction of a “world-scale” propylene plant in Texas to take advantage of shale gas resources there.

Shell said that if the project goes forward, up to 10,000 people would be working on it during construction. Once the plant is operating, it would employ several hundred full-time employees. Although Shell would not say how much it expects to spend building the plant, it said such plants typically cost “several” billion dollars.

The company said it would probably be able to take advantage of tax incentives under the state’s Keystone Opportunity Zones, originally created several years ago for portions of Philadelphia and other depressed parts of the state. In the past, the program has waived or reduced corporate taxes, sales taxes and other fees for major projects.

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