Shell Oil has agreed to a land option deal that would allow the company to build a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania.

The land option agreement, signed with zinc producer Horsehead Corp., which owns the 300-acre industrial site located 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, marks the end of three months of negotiations Shell had with leaders in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, which all three lobbied hard to attract the company. Shell representatives did not respond to ENR's request for comment, but a company spokesperson said the firm still may be a few years away from determining if it will build the facility which, they say, would cost in the “several billions” of dollars. The agreement allows them to continue conducting environmental and design studies on the site.

The so-called ethane “cracker” plant would convert ethane found in Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids into chemicals such as ethylene, used to make plastics.