Plans to build a second ethane cracker plant in the tri-state region are moving forward. PTT Global Chemical America has been studying the project in Belmont County, Ohio, since 2015 and is close to making a final investment decision.
In late July, JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development organization, awarded a $30 million revitalization grant toward site preparation, which is expected to cost about $65 million. It’s one of the largest awards ever offered by the agency as an incentive to attract the plant.
“JobsOhio’s revitalization grant will support initial site preparation work, which will begin later this month. While this is an important and positive step for the project, no final investment decision has been made,” said JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart. “JobsOhio and our partners will continue closely collaborating with PTTGC America and Daelim as they work toward a final investment decision.”
PTTGC spokesman Dan Williamson said, “This is just another example of what an outstanding partner JobsOhio has been throughout this process. Like PTTGC and Daelim, they want to see an expansion of employment opportunities in the Ohio Valley. This revitalization grant will enable us to proceed with site preparation work. While we do not yet have a final investment decision, this is a very positive step.”
The plant, which would be of a similar size as the one now under construction by Shell Chemical Appalachia in Beaver County, Pa., would represent an investment of up to $10 billion. It would sit on land where a power plant formerly stood on the bank of the Ohio River just across the border from the West Virginia northern panhandle, could also mean a big boost for the Ohio Valley area, which has lost significant manufacturing jobs.
PTTGC chose the site because of its location in the Marcellus and Utica region with access to major highway, rail, pipeline and port infrastructure that would reduce financial and environmental costs of transporting the natural gas byproducts.
A cracker plant separates ethane from natural gas using extreme heat to crack molecular bonds and create ethylene, from which plastics, resins, solvents, and other industrial products are made.
PTTGC, based in Thailand, has partnered with Daelim Industrial Co., a South Korean chemical company and major air and water permits have been issued. In March, trees were removed from a 140-acre central area of the site.
Most recently, a Bechtel official said during an industry conference in June that the company has been chosen to construct the facility. Bechtel is overseeing construction of the Shell Chemical Appalachia plant in Beaver County.
If constructed, the plant could produce 1.5 million tons of ethylene and its derivatives per year. It is also estimated that some 10,000 construction workers could be needed and that 1,000 permanent jobs could be created. More jobs could be created in the area from ventures using the ethylene in manufacturing of various products.
A study done by IHS Markit for JobsOhio predicts that by 2040, the “shale crescent” region of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania that sit above Marcellus and Utica reserves will supply 45 percent of the nation’s natural gas and 19 percent of its gas liquids, with lower feedstock costs than cracker plants in the Gulf region.
Photo Credit: PTTGC