The Pittsburgh Business Times (PBT) reported on Tuesday, that ExxonMobil has been scouting a location to build a new petrochemical plant in Beaver County.
ExxonMobil has a division dedicated to converting fossil fuel byproducts into plastics that Americans use in their everyday lives. The company already opened a functioning cracker facility in Baytown, Texas, with a second, larger, facility planned in San Patricio County, Texas.
In order to keep up with competition from Shell, PTT Global Chemical, and Braskem in the northeastern region, ExxonMobil has been looking to expand their petrochemical department to the Appalachia for the past three to four years. Even though their expansion plans were put on the back burner, they seem to be at the forefront again.
A source told PBT that brokers representing ExxonMobil were in Beaver County last week. The broker is said to have offered basic parameters of its site requirements in the region. Another person also noted how the company visited at least one site in Beaver County.
According the article, ExxonMobil is looking for a range of 240 acres of flat land or land that can be made flat along the river. The company is looking to cut their location options down to three, but whether or not all three options are in Beaver County is unknown.
When asked about their intentions in Beaver county, the company responded with this broad statement:
“ExxonMobil continuously evaluates its global portfolio of businesses, depending upon fit with its overall strategic business objectives,” an ExxonMobil spokeswoman emailed. “We have a range of existing and new petrochemical investments along the U.S. Gulf Coast. These are covered by Exxon’s Growing the Gulf initiative.”
Local and state government officials have been offering southwestern Pennsylvania as an investment in the chemical industry. Shell’s lead in the region and a 2017 Markit study that estimated there were enough natural gas liquids for four more plastics manufacturing plants, have made marketing the region sensible. The Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, also recommends a stronger petrochemical industry in Appalachia for economic development and to protect the industry against natural disasters, as most facilities are built along the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast.
The Trump Administration also supports additional investment in the natural gas liquids sector. They were already considering a loan application by the Appalachian Development Group to build a storage facility in either West Virginia, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. A storage hub is necessary in order to store the vast amounts of ethane and propane before use by a cracker.
Expanding Pennsylvania’s natural gas liquids sector will help the region capitalize on the investments they’ve already made and support the economy that’s been built.