Philadelphia a new chemical hub?
The Philadelphia area was home to a number of chemical and refinery assets many decades ago. Since then Gulf Coast locations offered cheaper labor and land, better infrastructure, and an aggressive attitude to attracting chemical and petroleum investments. New investment in the Philadelphia area dried up, and the cost structure, including poor economies of scale caused many to leave.
Yet the Philadelphia area and surrounding 200 miles is home to a significant demand for chemical and petroleum products. The logistics of transporting products from the Gulf Coast continue to get more difficult as they have been a victim of their own success. Philadelphia also has a number of large brownfield sites with superior logistical infrastructure sitting idle.
Shale gas and oil could perhaps change the picture radically. The refineries in the area, fed by natural gas liquids from the logistically close Marcellus and Utica shale gas fields, could use these as blending stock. That would allow them, with minimal investment to accept heavier, and cheaper crude oil feedstocks without the traditional significant investments.
The port facilities in Philadelphia also have sizeable storage facilities for natural gas liquids, as well as liquid natural gas capability at the PGW facilities. Pipelines are under construction to bring the nearby Marcellus and Utica shale gas to Philadelphia for potential export.
With all of these pieces in place: storage facilities, feedstock from Marcellus and Utica, local demand for product, and available brownfield sites with good infrastructure, why not re-establish chemical manufacturing in Philadelphia?