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Shell: New steel tariffs would have “little-to-no” impact on Beaver County cracker plant

Shell: New steel tariffs would have “little-to-no” impact on Beaver County cracker plant

By Chrissy Suttles: 3 Dec 2019

Shell Chemicals representatives say President Donald Trump’s plans to restore tariffs on some steel imports would have minimal impact on final construction of Beaver County’s ethane cracker plant.

POTTER TWP. — President Donald Trump plans to restore tariffs on steel imports from Brazil and Argentina, a move Shell Chemicals representatives said would have little impact on final construction of Beaver County’s ethane cracker plant.

“Generally, all of our major steel deliveries have been made to the site, so there would be no impact or minimal impact,” said Michael Marr, Shell Chemicals’ business integration lead. “The impact would only be financial, and would not change the overall finances of the project.”

Marr didn’t say how much Brazilian steel was used to construct the $6 billion-petrochemical complex, although records show Shell has imported thousands of tons from foreign countries, including China and Brazil, to build it.

Last year, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey asked the Trump administration to ease 25 percent tariffs and quotas on steel imports from Brazil, arguing the policy would hurt Pennsylvania companies. Brazilian steel piping on its way to Potter Township sat in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for months due to the quotas.

Trump ultimately relaxed his policy, allowing Shell to move forward without too much delay.

In a statement this week, Toomey questioned Trump’s purpose for renewing the tariffs he said could still harm Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector. It’s particularly troubling as ExxonMobil considers a second cracker plant in Beaver County — the U.S. is one of Brazil’s top steel customers.

″[Trump] is justifying these tariffs by citing Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act,” Toomey said. “This provision is exclusively meant for national security threats. Yet, the president has acknowledged the real purpose of this action is to combat currency manipulation — which does not pose a national security threat.”

Toomey said Trump’s actions were “illegitimate” because the statutory window for imposing tariffs had closed.

“These actions further underscore that Congress should take up my legislation that would reassert congressional authority regarding imposition of national security tariffs,” Toomey said.

Potter’s cracker plant is nearing completion, Marr said. Roughly 6,500 pipe fitters, electricians and welders are on site “literally tying things together.” It’s still slated to open sometime next year and will support about 600 permanent, full-time jobs. The company expects to produce more than a million tons of plastic each year at the facility, spurring an interest in Appalachian petrochemical production.

“We are at the stage where we have erected all of the larger structures, so people who have lived in the area have seen the skyline change,” Marr said. “That work is done, and now we are tying the various larger structures together.”

SOURCE

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