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State legislators ask feds to support ethane storage hub in Pennsylvania

Stephen Huba
gtrEthaneHub060618
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Denise Brinley, senior energy adviser for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, addresses a news conference on Tuesday in support of an ethane storage hub. Looking on are Team Pennsylvania President and CEO Ryan Unger and state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Canonsburg.

Two legislators from southwestern Pennsylvania have filed a resolution calling for federal legislation and policies to support the construction of an ethane storage hub in the Appalachian region.

State Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Monaca, and state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Canonsburg, spoke Tuesday in favor of the storage hub at a news conference in Harrisburg.

“Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s leading states in terms of natural gas production, manufacturing and the petrochemical industry,” Bartolotta said. “Building an ethane storage and distribution hub would help our state capitalize on its existing infrastructure and natural resources, giving us an opportunity to create more quality jobs and drive business growth throughout the region.”

Bartolotta said among the “strategic steps” necessary for the hub’s development is the passage of several bills by Congress.

Such a hub could be used for the storage and distribution of ethane feedstock to petrochemical facilities such as the one being built by Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC in Beaver County, said Abby Foster, president of the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council.

“The development of ethane storage facilities would drive additional investments to grow the supply chain and solidify this market for Pennsylvania,” Foster said. “We applaud the legislature’s leadership in recognizing this potential and driving support for this growing industry.”

A 2017 study commissioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development forecasted that, from 2026 to 2030, the expected ethane output from the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays will be enough to support up to four additional ethane steam crackers in the region.

Shell Chemical is building the $6 billion facility on the Ohio River with a view toward using ethane from the Marcellus Shale and processing it into ethylene and, finally, polyethylene pellets for the plastics industry. It has begun hiring for production operator positions and anticipates up to 600 jobs.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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