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Public can comment on 60-mile pipeline for Shell “cracker” plant in Beaver

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is inviting public comments on a proposed water obstruction and encroachment permits for a nearly 60 mile ethane pipeline by the Shell Pipeline Company. Royal Dutch Shell is building the $6 billion facility on the Ohio River in Beaver with a view toward using ethane from the Marcellus shale play and processing it into ethylene and, finally, polyethylene for the plastics industry.

The 12-inch pipeline would connect the Shell ethane plant in Beaver County with facilities in other parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to DEP.

The pipeline would stretch through Allegheny (11.6 miles), Beaver (30 miles) and Washington (18) counties, according to the DEP.

Public comments on Shell’s applications for the construction of the pipeline are due by February 20.

Shell Appalachia Business Integration Lead Michael Marr said Shell selected the Beaver County site to be close to the feedstock source — Marcellus shale natural gas — and to be close to potential customers. The plant is estimated to be within 700 miles of 70 percent of North American polyethylene customers, he said.

Shell engineer Todd Whittemore said the pressurized ethane will be brought to the plant via the pipeline.

Shell is under contract with 10 natural gas companies to ensure a long-term supply, Marr said.

Right-of-way acquisition for construction of the pipeline that will bring the ethane to the plant is “on track,” Whittemore said late last year.

Anyone wanting to learn more or to ask question, should contact DEP’s Southwest Regional Office, Dana Drake, Waterways and Wetlands Program Manager, 412-442-4000.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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