An Ohio county near West Virginia could be the site of a major shale-based petrochemical complex that would include plastic resin production.
Belmont County is a finalist for the project, which would be built by a partnership of PTT Global Chemical of Thailand and Marubeni Corp. of Japan. The site would include an ethane cracker — using natural gas from the region's Utica and Marcellus shale deposits — and would produce ethylene feedstocks and resins, most likely polyethylene.
The project was unveiled in an April 22 news release from the office of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. “Ohio is at the center of America's new energy industry,” Kasich said in the release. “The smart companies want to come here to be part of the great things that are happening.
“We are one step closer to landing a new, multi-billion dollar investment in eastern Ohio,” he added.
In the same release, PTT Executive Vice President Kongkrapan Intarajang said that working with the state and with the JobsOhio non-profit group for the last two years “has been a positive experience, and we look forward to moving this project into the next phase.”
Engineering design and permitting are expected to take 12-16 months to complete. A final decision will be made in 2016. If PTT and Marubeni move ahead with the project, construction is expected to take three and a half years.
At least four similar projects have been proposed for shale-rich regions of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania in recent years, but none have begun construction. An ethylene/PE project by two Brazilian firms — petrochemicals maker Braskem and construction firm Odebrecht — was moving forward until Braskem CEO Fernando Musa said at an industry event last week that the firms are re-evaluating the project. Musa said recent drops in global oil prices have reduced the profit advantage of natural gas feedstock.
Shell Chemical LP has proposed a massive petrochemicals unit in Monaca, Pa., near Pittsburgh, but seems no closer to breaking ground than when the project was announced in 2012. Startup firms Appalachian Resins and Aither Chemical also had projects on the drawing board but have taken no action.