Shell Chemical LP has exercised its land option with the Horsehead Corporation in Beaver County, Gov. Tom Corbett announced on Friday.
Shell is analyzing the land for a potential multi-billion dollar extraction project. While the company's acquisition of the land is a step forward, it is no indication that Shell will finalize an investment in the area.
"Today’s announcement is another positive indication for Shell’s proposed petrochemical facility in Beaver County,” Corbett said. “On behalf of Pennsylvania’s working families, I will continue to lead Pennsylvania’s bipartisan effort to ensure this multi-billion dollar project continues moving forward. If built, this project would be the single largest industrial investment in Southwest Pennsylvania in a generation."
The proposed plant would extract ethane from the region's shale gas resource to produce ethylene, a vital ingredient in the petrochemical industry.
Shell started looking for a plant location in 2011, signing option agreements with many Beaver County townships in March 2012.
The location would require access to liquid-rich natural gas and water resources, roads and railways, and power grids, in addition to enough space for a large-scale plant.
Friday's announcement marks a movement into the next phase in building the new plant, which will include further site evaluation, engineering design studies, assessment of local ethane supply and continuing to evaluate the economic viability of the project.