First Phase of Cracker Site Work Complete in Belmont County
PTTDLM continues to work toward final investment decision
DILLES BOTTOM — Decreasing activity at the site of a proposed ethane cracker plant in Belmont County is not a sign of declining interest in the project.
Officials with PTT Global Chemical America of Thailand and Daelim Chemical USA of South Korea announced online Friday that contractors have completed the first phase of site preparation for the potential plant. The developers have purchased more than 500 acres of land, including the site of FirstEnergy’s former R.E. Burger coal-fired power plant, between the Ohio River and Ohio 7 south of Shadyside. Since mid-2019, heavy equipment has been visible at that location as PTTDLM’s contractors performed site preparation, engineering and design work to prepare for the possible world-scale petrochemical complex.
PTTDLM said Friday that the first phase of this work is complete. As a result, activity on the site will be “significantly reduced for the next two or three months.”
Now, the website pttbelmontcountyoh.com states, officials with PTTDLM are working toward finalizing project financing and supply agreements.
“We will begin the next phase of this project closer to our final investment decision, which we continue to anticipate will come in the first half of this year,” the announcement states. “We thank JobsOhio, Governor Mike DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted and the local officials of Belmont County for their continued support, and we deeply appreciate the enthusiasm and the patience of the the Ohio Valley community throughout this process.”
If the project moves forward, the plant would use locally produced natural gas to fuel six furnaces that would “crack,” or break apart, ethane molecules. The ethane also would be drawn from wells in the local region. The resulting product would be ethylene, which is used to make plastics and a variety of other items and chemicals.
Construction of the plant is expected to create thousands of temporary jobs and a few years to complete, while hundreds of people would be employed within the plant itself once it is in operation. In addition, it is anticipated that such a complex would attract local investment by other companies, such as plastics producers who would benefit from constructing facilities in close proximity to the cracker.
Some area residents are concerned about the plant’s potential to create air and water pollution, and they have held informational meetings and staged protests related to PTTDLM’s plan. PTTDLM has responded that it will be a responsible community member if it decides to build the plant; specifically, it would use renewable materials whenever possible, would promote upcycling and would take steps to reduce emissions, among several other things. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has approved both air and water discharge permits for the proposed facility.