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Shell to discuss petrochemical plant proposal

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm •  Published: April 15, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Shell Oil Co. plans to hold public meetings Wednesday to discuss the possibility of building a huge petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania.

In early 2012, Shell chose a site about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh for the possible multibillion-dollar plant, and the company has purchased property in the area and sought bids from suppliers. That same year, it also got what lawmakers call Pennsylvania's largest ever taxpayer-financed incentive package.

But Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon said there's still no guarantee that the project will be built.

"No final decisions to build the project have been made," Windon said, adding that the meetings are "simply an opportunity for people to meet with Shell representatives, and for us to seek their input as we continue with our project evaluation."

The possible ethane cracking plant would convert ethane from bountiful shale natural gas and oil into more profitable chemicals which are then used to produce plastics, tires and other products. Cracker plants use extreme heat, high pressure and then extreme cold to break the ethane molecules into smaller chemical components. Such plants look similar to a gasoline refinery, with miles of pipe and large storage tanks. The final complex could cover several hundred acres.

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