Gulf Coast's petrochemical industry bounces back with natural gas

  • Marie Cusick

The proposed Royal Dutch Shell ethane cracker plant outside Pittsburgh isn’t a done deal yet, but the Corbett administration has called it their number one economic development priority for the state.
The Allegheny Front takes a look at how natural gas has spurred new development in the Gulf Coast’s petrochemical industry– bringing jobs and environmental concerns.
From the Allegheny Front:

Other chemical makers that depend on natural gas—like producers of fertilizer—also are building new plants. In the next five years, the industry expects to build or refit about a dozen plants.
An industry-funded study from research firm IHS estimates that the chemical industry will make $129 billion in new investments nationwide as a direct result of shale gas, adding more than 50,000 permanent jobs to a workforce of around 800,000.
Shell’s cracker in Beaver County could include separate units that further refine the ethylene into products that go into packaging, fibers and other chemicals. Costs have been estimated at around $2 or $3 billion, though Kimberly Windon, Shell’s spokeswoman, said the company is not disclosing the exact amount.
The project could add 10,000 jobs during construction and 17,000 indirect jobs as other chemical companies and suppliers come into the area once it’s completed, said Steve Kratz, spokesman for the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development. The Shell plant could attract companies that make rubber, sealants or PVC pipes.