Shell to Buy Horsehead Plant in Beaver County

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By Anya Litvak

The division of Dutch chemical and energy giant Royal Dutch Shell is exercising its option on Beaver County property as it moves ahead with evaluating the site for a possible Appalachian ethane cracker plant — a multibillion dollar facility that would turn the natural gas liquid into ethylene, a feedstock for petrochemical production.

“This is a good decision but it does not mean that we have [made] the investment decision to proceed with the project,” said Ate Visser, the vice president with Shell Chemical who has been the lead on the Marcellus cracker project since May.

Several things need to line up before Shell’s top brass can make a final investment decision.

The company is in the midst of engineering and design. Major permits, such as a state air permit, must be in hand. Only then will the Appalachian cracker project be stacked against other such plants in the Gulf and against other investment opportunities in Shell’s portfolio to inform a final decision on whether the project makes economic sense.

And many of the permits Shell is seeking require it to be the owner of the property, officials said, explaining the timing of the land purchase.

Mr. Visser declined to give a price for the property and said there is no closing date set for the deal.

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