Horsehead Corp. has signed another six-month extension with Royal Dutch Shell as the energy company considers using a Monaca facility as a site for an ethane cracker.
Ali Alavi, a senior vice president at Horsehead, which owns a metal plant currently occupying the 300-acre site in Monaca, said Shell didn't commit to making a decision within the next six months, but added that the time period "seemed to be a reasonable number between the parties."
The extension isn't a surprise as Shell has been saying for months that its decision would not be bound by the June 30 expiration of its latest land option agreement with Horsehead.
That six-month contract was an extension of the first land option deal announced in March 2012.
Shell is looking at both the feasibility of that particular site and evaluating the overall market for an ethane cracker in the northeast.
Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon said that process is continuing.
"The reason that we would announce that we wanted a specific site so early is it allows us to open communication with potential neighbors" and stakeholders, she said.
"Even though we have not decided whether we'll go ahead and build the facility, it's important for us that we listen to their feedback."
The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance tried to dispel alarm over the delay saying: "Extending the term of a land option agreement is a routine aspect of this kind of ongoing evaluation."