Shell extends option on Pa. site for cracker plant

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Shell Chemical LP has extended its option to buy an industrial site that could become a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant, the site’s current owner announced today.

Horsehead Corp. said the new agreement for the 300-acre site in Monaca, about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, includes plans to start demolishing a zinc plant in early 2014 at Shell’s expense.

Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon confirmed the agreement. She wrote in an email that the demolition work will begin preparing the site for potential construction, but she stressed that Shell “is continuing its evaluation and has yet to make a final decision to proceed” with the project.

Shell chose the site, which is now a zinc plant, in March 2012 but has cautioned that it would be several years before a final decision to build was made.

The so-called ethane cracking plant would convert ethane from bountiful Marcellus Shale natural-gas liquids into more profitable chemicals such as ethylene, which are used to produce everything from plastics to tires to antifreeze.

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