It's important for area residents to remember that last week's announcement by the Shell Oil Co. that it had selected Monaca, Pa., as the site for its ethane cracker plant, while disappointing, does not represent the end of the oil and gas game for Steubenville, Weirton or any of the surrounding communities.
It is, in fact, only one more step in a process that, if all indicators are accurate, will continue to see development across all parts of our region.
Shell's announcement last Thursday that it had decided to purchase an option on the 300-acre site along the Ohio River in Beaver County that is currently home to the Horsehead Corp.'s zinc recycling facility capped a six-month-long competition among Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The stakes were very high - estimates are that as many as 10,000 jobs will be created to build the multi-billion dollar plant, with several hundred needed to run the facility.
Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia both worked hard to bring the facility to their states, as did Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. Corbett's bid won out, but that does not mean our portion of the Tri-State Area will be harmed. The facility, only a 45-minute drive from Steubenville, is expected to generate many downstream economic benefits.
Let's not forget that while Jefferson, Hancock and Brooke counties missed out on the Shell plant, our area sits on top of vast reserves of natural gas and oil in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, which already is bringing a boost to our economy. If projections hold, that means we are at just the beginning of what should be a long period of economic growth.
Plus, reports have surfaced that another company - Aither Chemical - has plans to build a smaller cracker plant somewhere in Ohio, West Virginia or Pennsylvania sometime in the next four years.
The oil and gas industry continues to expand in our area, and that can only mean good things for our economy.