Funding Provided for Belmont County Cracker Plant Site Preparation
DILLES BOTTOM — Another $65 million is being invested in site preparation work for a proposed ethane cracker plant in Belmont County.
JobsOhio, a private nonprofit economic development organization, awarded a $30 million revitalization grant to PTT Global Chemical America of Thailand and Daelim Industrial Co. of South Korea, which have partnered to explore construction of a petrochemical plant along the Ohio River in Mead Township at Dilles Bottom, south of Shadyside. The companies have committed $65 million for the site work through JobsOhio, including the $30 million grant.
The proposed complex, which former Gov. John Kasich said could cost up to $10 billion to construct, is projected to process 1.5 million tons of ethane from the local natural gas stream annually. Cracker plants use ethane to create polyethylene, a component of plastics and chemicals such as antifreeze, solvents and cleaners, as well as many consumer products including textiles, adhesives and paints. Ethane is an abundant part of the natural gas stream found in the Utica and Marcellus shales that underlie much of Eastern Ohio and parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
“JobsOhio’s revitalization grant will support initial site preparation work, which will begin later this month,” JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart said. “While this is an important and positive step for the project, no final investment decision has been made. JobsOhio and our partners will continue closely collaborating with PTTGC America and Daelim as they work toward a final investment decision.”
Dan Williamson, spokesman for PTTGCA and Daelim, said the grant is good news for the project, though he also emphasized that no final investment decision has been made. He pointed out that the much of the site previously was occupied by FirstEnergy’s R.E. Burger Plant, a coal-fired electric generation facility. He said a lot of work will be required to clean up the site and to prepare it for any type of future industrial development.
Williamson said he does not know the details of what type of work will be performed with the grant funds or how many workers will be hired to complete those tasks.
“PTTGC America and Daelim are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support from JobsOhio,” Williamson said. “Going way back to when the site was first selected, JobsOhio has been there every step of the way.”
Williamson termed JobsOhio an “outstanding” organization and said its mission is to bring jobs to eastern and southeastern Ohio.
“PTTGC America and Daelim share that passion,” Williamson continued.
He also said he would expect the Dilles Bottom location to be utilized for future industry, regardless of whether PTTGCA/ Daelim ultimately build the cracker plant. He called the property a “prime job site.”
Belmont County Commissioner J.P. Dutton agreed that the roughly 500-acre location is worthy of investment and that he sees it as a “very developable piece of property.” He pointed to its proximity to the Ohio River as well as its ready access to highway and rail transportation.
Like Williamson, Dutton also said he does not details of the work to be performed using the grant funds. He noted he remains optimistic that the project will move forward.
“Things continue to be very positive with the project,” Dutton said. “We (commissioners) always appreciate the way the project team goes about their business, performing their due diligence.”
PTTGCA first announced its plans to build an ethane cracker in Belmont County in May 2015. The following September, the company said it would spend $100 million on engineering and design plans for the facility. Daelim partnered with PTTGCA in January 2018. No timeline for a final project decision has been released.
This is not the first time JobsOhio has committed money to help drive the project forward. In December 2016, JobsOhio announced a $14 million grant to FirstEnergy Corp. to defray the company’s costs of demolishing and removing the former R.E. Burger Plant — an amount that was in addition to the more than $3 million that JobsOhio granted to the owners of the adjacent Ohio-West Virginia Excavating Co. property to remediate that portion of the potential petrochemical plant land.