Royal Dutch Shell appears to be moving forward with its plan for a petrochemicals plant in the Western Pennsylvania city of Monaca, according to the Philadelphia-based owner of a nearby shopping mall that expects to benefit from the proposal.

Shell recently made a fresh land acquisition near the site of the proposed complex and started leasing part of Beaver Valley Mall's parking lot from owner Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) "for a significant sum of money," said Joseph Coradino, the mall developer's chief executive officer.

"All indications are that Shell is going to go forward," Coradino said during a conference call with analysts Wednesday.

He did not elaborate on how Shell would use acquired and leased land.

The energy giant has begun completion of some preliminary work at the site of a proposed $2 billion ethane cracker on the Ohio River in Beaver County, but it has not yet officially committed to the project. The facility would process ethane derived from Marcellus Shale gas into ethylene, which is used in the production of plastics and solvents.

Coradino said PREIT was monitoring Shell's moves around the plant as it decides what to do with Beaver Valley Mall, its worst-performing asset. The company has sold off other lesser-performing properties in an effort to bolster the overall value of its portfolio.

"The tail wagging the dog is the Shell cracking plant," he said of Beaver Valley.

If the cracker proposal goes forward, the mall would be able to attract new tenants to serve the 10,000-member crew Shell has said would build the project, boosting its value, Coradino said.

PREIT is already under contract to sell two pieces of mall property to an adjacent landowner for construction of an office building and a hotel, he said.

Neither PREIT nor Shell responded immediately to messages seeking more details.

PREIT's local mall properties include the former Gallery at Market East, which is being rehabbed into an outlet center; Willow Grove Park; and Cherry Hill Mall.

215-854-2615 @jacobadelman