New Timeline for Shell Cracker Plant Announcement

MDN has extensively covered Shell’s plan to build a $1.5-$2.0 billion ethane cracker plant somewhere in the Marcellus region (see MDN’s previous coverage here). A cracker plant “cracks” ethane, a component of raw natural gas, into ethylene, a raw material used to manufacture plastics. West Virginia has been perhaps the most vocal and energetic of prospective locations in their efforts to attract Shell’s investment inside their borders. But Ohio and Pennsylvania are also making a serious effort to attract it as well.

Until now, the word was that Shell would likely make their announcement in mid- to late January. The timeline has apparently changed to be mid- to late February, according to West Virginia officials who remain jazzed about their possibilities in winning the cracker plant sweepstakes.

West Virginia won’t likely learn until mid- or late February where energy giant Shell will locate a huge new chemical plant tied to Marcellus shale natural gas drilling, but the state remains in the running both for it and a second so-called "cracker" plant planned for the region, a top Tomblin administration official said Wednesday.

Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette told a House committee that a member of Shell’s site search team recently commented on how "West Virginia has been so far ahead of the mix in identifying this as an opportunity."

"That’s high praise," Burdette said. He also said, "I’m feeling good about this, and I think the state should feel good about this. We are absolutely in the mix, and we are going to be a decidedly important player."*

*The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (Jan 19, 2012) – West Virginia Still in Mix For Cracker, Lawmakers Told