Two words among hundreds at commissioners’ meeting: ‘Starpointe’ and ‘Shell’

August 18, 2017

Mum was the word Wednesday morning when discussion of a 31-acre development that includes a 90-bay distribution center and trucking dispatch operation at Starpointe Business Park, Hanover Township, did not identify a prospective tenant.But a summary of a resolution, known as “the script,” when read aloud at a voting meeting Thursday of the Washington County commissioners to sell Starpointe land to developer Scannell Properties of Indianapolis, contained a tantalizing clue: “to construct a two-unit building for Shell.“The resolution passed by a vote of 2-0. Commission Chairman Larry Maggi was absent.Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC announced in June of last year its decision to construct a natural gas ethylene cracker with polyethylene derivatives unit near Monaca, Beaver County, with commercial production to begin “early in the next decade.“Shell plans to use low-cost ethane from shale gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica basins to produce 1.6 million tons of polyethylene per year.As many as 6,000 workers will be needed to build the complex along the Ohio River, and when the plant is up and running, Shell expects to employ 600 permanent workers.The news release that accompanied that announcement had far-reaching implications, with Royal Dutch Shell plc’s Executive Vice President for Global Chemicals Graham van’t Hoff linking it with Shell Chemical’s expansion of alpha olefins production in Louisiana and a partnership with CNOOC in China.Neither Dan Reitz, executive director of the Washington County Council on Economic Development, which is in charge of Starpointe, about 20 miles away from Monaca, nor Kevin See, executive vice president for Scannell Properties’ project management, would divulge Wednesday the entity expected to lease the space. Reitz, however, said Scannell was required to prove it had leases before a closing takes place next month.Asked about a connection between the cracker plant and the Starpointe trucking facility, a spokeswoman for Shell media relations for the Americas in Houston, Texas, who declined to give her name, said, “I can’t confirm that. We just don’t comment on potential tenants or things like that,” and referred the inquiry to Shell’s online United States media website. There was no response as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday.About 200 people will be employed when the complex is completed in Starpointe, which Reitz labeled Wednesday as “new jobs.“Commission Vice Chairman Diana Irey Vaughan and Commissioner Harlan Shober declined to elaborate after the conclusion of their meeting Thursday.“We know who it is,” Irey Vaughan said. “We’re not allowed to say. We’re under a confidentiality agreement” that took effect once Reitz briefed the commissioners Wednesday afternoon.“The name of the company is not on the agenda,” Irey Vaughan continued. “If I could tell you, I would, but I can’t.”