Pennsylvania

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More Ethane Crackers May Pop Up In Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania

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A petrochemical complex similar to what Shell is considering building in Beaver County

It’s been about ten months since Shell designated a site outside Monaca, Beaver County, as the possible location for a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker.

Since then, Shell has benefited from what may end up as the largest tax break in state history, but the company is still studying the feasibility of the western Pennsylvania site, and hasn’t made a final decision on whether or not to build the plant.

Before Shell settled on Pennsylvania, the company also considered sites in Ohio and West Virginia. Both states are still pushing to host another petrochemical plant, as the natural gas industry continues expanding in the Appalachian region. In that context, the Herald Star takes a close look at demand for ethane crackers, and where future plants could be built:

Companies such as Chesapeake Energy, Chevron and Gulfport Energy are known in the industry as “producers” because they sell the gas they pump out of the ground. Because the wet gas requires processing before it goes to market, producers send their product to companies such as Dominion Resources, Williams Partners or MarkWest Energy for processing.

At these plants, the ethane, butane, propane and other natural gas liquids are separated from the “dry” methane gas so that all the products can be individually marketed.

Some local producers now send ethane to Texas or Canada via pipeline, at least partially because there is no cracker in the Marcellus and Utica shale region.

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