ExxonMobil is reportedly looking for land to build a large chemical plant in Beaver County.
The Pittsburgh Business Times is reporting that agents representing ExxonMobil are scouting riverfront property in Beaver County to build a cracker — a large plant that turns natural gas into plastics and chemicals.
The paper reports that brokers representing the company were in Beaver County last week:
“One source familiar with ExxonMobil’s search, a major land owner in the Beaver County area, said a broker offered the basic parameters of its site requirements in the region. Another source told the Business Times that at least one site in Beaver County had been visited.”
If built, it would be the second major chemical plant in Beaver County built to take advantage of cheap natural gas from the region’s fracking industry.
Shell is already buidling a six-billion dollar plant in Monaca that will make plastic out of ethane, a common byproduct of natural gas. Other companies are looking at locations in Ohio and West Virginia.
Experts say these companies are drawn by rapidly increasing supply of natural gas and byproducts like ethane in the region.
“Certainly there is a a large supply of (natural gas liquids) in the Northeast, which could potentially be converted into plastics for industrial use,” said Jennifer Van Dinter, an analyst at S&P Global Platts.
“By the early 2020s, we’re (projecting) between about 500,000 and 600,000 barrels a day of ethane being produced in the Northeast, and that would be capable of supporting four to five petrochemical facilities,” Van Dinter said.
In a statement, a company spokeswoman said ExxonMobil “continuously evaluates its global portfolio of businesses, depending upon fit with its overall strategic business objectives. We remain focused and have been strategically investing in refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the U.S. Gulf Coast region.”
This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WPSU, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.