This so-called cracker, which would break natural gas down into chemicals that can be used to make plastics and other materials, would create hundreds of new jobs at the plant and potentially attract other plastics and chemical plants, creating thousands more jobs.
Leaders in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia all aggressively courted Shell with promises of tax breaks and other incentives in an attempt to lure the plant to their state. Pennsylvania eventually won out with its offer of a nearly $2 billion multi-year tax incentive package.
On March 15, 2012, Shell signed a land option agreement to begin evaluating a site near Monaca, Pa. The company expected it would take one to two years to complete all the evaluations and engineering work, before making a final investment decision to officially green-light the project.
Meanwhile, many analysts began to sour on new natural gas refinery investment in the Marcellus region.
Some have said the shale gas refining industry has expanded too much in recent years and argue company dollars would be better spent by making use of unused capacity at existing plants along the Gulf Coast.
Three major pipeline projects also have been announced since the Shell decision. Once complete, the pipelines will be able carry up to 600,000 barrels per day of ethane and other liquids from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast.
Voser, who is stepping down at the end of the year, has acknowledged the company over-invested in the U.S. oil and gas shale market. He told the Financial Times in early October his "biggest regret" as Shell CEO was the company's $24 billion bet on North American shale.
In addition to the Pennsylvania cracker, the company is also evaluating potential construction of a liquefied natural gas plant in Canada and a large gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana.
On a conference call with analysts and the media Thursday, Voser said the company's cash restraints will prevent it from building all three plants.
"We cannot afford to take all three together at once and if we could, I am not sure we have the engineers and the project managers to do so," Voser said. "So we will need to make choices (about) which (projects) go forward."
Company officials said they might have a better idea about the status of the projects when the company reports fourth quarter earnings in late January.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.