Pennsylvania senator urges Shell to bring natural gas plant, jobs to state

January 16, 2012

U.S. Senator Bob Casey recently urged the Shell Oil Company to bring a natural gas processing facility to Pennsylvania, which may create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in private investment for the region, according to a release from the senator's office.

The release noted that Shell is considering locations to construct a large facility that would break down natural gas, which is an abundant resource in Pennsylvania. This commodity would be broken down into substances used to produce fibers, plastics and automotive products, which in turn would boost the manufacturing sector within the state.

"Pennsylvania is at the epicenter of the rapidly growing Marcellus shale natural gas industry, making it the ideal location for a processing plant that will create thousands of local jobs," said Casey. "Pennsylvania has the skilled workers, natural resources and innovative research network needed to support this plant and boost Pennsylvania’s economy."

The plant, called an ethane cracker, is a facility that Shell is considering building in the northeast, as this move would give it greater access to gas that is extracted from the Marcellus shale formation.

According to the release, there is currently no infrastructure in the region to process the natural gas co-product, requiring the resource to be shipped elsewhere. Some estimates have indicated that construction of a new processing complex may attract up to $16 billion in private investment and create thousands of employment opportunities in the process.

"I am optimistic that a Shell facility will be the foundation of an industrial and manufacturing expansion that will bring thousands of construction and production jobs to Pennsylvania," Casey wrote to Shell President Mark Quartermain. "I encourage you to take this opportunity to build on Pennsylvania’s long manufacturing history and invest in the region."

The Associated Press reported that the company has said it will decide this year whether to build the plant in Pennsylvania, Ohio or West Virginia, and each of these states has lobbied Shell or offered incentives to motivate the firm to choose their region.

According to the news outlet, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey noted that he had been in close contact with state economic officials who are leading the effort to land the plant.