Pa. business leaders: Shale-gas pipeline build-out needs to step up

For Braskem America Inc., the choice of where to build a new $500 million polypropylene plant came down to two locations: Marcus Hook or Texas.

The Delaware County site, where the Brazilian company already operates a plant, boasts proximity to the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations, which produce the natural-gas liquids that make a key ingredient in polypropylene. Marcus Hook also is close to Braskem’s customers, who convert the plastic into products ranging from carpet to yogurt cups.

But Braskem decided earlier this year to build the new production unit at its plant in La Porte, Texas. The location near Houston had a critical advantage over Marcus Hook: a ready supply of raw material from a half-dozen nearby Gulf Coast petrochemical operations.

“I was disappointed to choose Texas, but we had to choose the place where we had easy access to feedstocks,” said Mark G. Nikolich, chief executive of Braskem America, based in Center City.

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