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Ohio ethane cracker decision delayed


The State Jouranl

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — PTT Global Chemical says it will delay its decision on whether to build an ethane cracker across the Ohio River from Moundsville as it evaluates engineering reports and seeks more partners for the project.

PTTGC had previously announced it would make its final investment decision in the first quarter of this year, but it now says the decision could come in the second half of this year. The company issued a statement Feb. 14 explaining its reasons for the delay. It gave other details in an investor presentation as it announced its year-end financial results.

“Over the past two years, PTTGC America has been working with two engineering, procurement and construction contractors to complete the engineering design work of the complex,” Toasaporn Boonyapipat, president and CEO of PTTGC America LLC, said in the Feb. 14 statement.

“Upon receipt of the initial plans, we recognized a need for further discussions with each of them so that we will be in a stronger position to make our decision on the engineering design and the economic feasibility of this project. We expect this process to take several additional months, delaying PTTGC America’s ability to reach a final investment decision.”

Boonyapipat’s statement said commercial arrangements have been made with several other parties to the project, including feedstock and utility suppliers, product marketers and logistics providers. The project has received three environmental permits that were necessary for site preparation, which is progressing.

The plant is planned for the site of the former FirstEnergy R.E. Burger Power Plant across the river from Moundsville. The power plant has been demolished, and environmental remediation has been completed, according to the statement.

The year-end management statement said the cracker project is looking for potential partners to invest in it. The project would use ethane from Marcellus and Utica Shale gas wells in the region to produce 1 million tons of ethylene per year, along with 700,000 tons of HDPE and 600,000 tons of other products.

Ethylene is used as a basis for plastics and resins contained in everyday items such as food and product packaging, textiles and pharmaceuticals.

PTTGC announced its intention to build the cracker at the Burger site in April 2015. At the time, it said it expected to reach a final investment decision in 2016. That was later moved to the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, Shell Chemicals has said it expects to begin large-scale construction on its ethane cracker plant along the Ohio River in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, sometime next year, but it is not giving a target date for when it will go into production.

That plant also will use ethane from shale gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica basins to produce 1.6 million tonnes of polyethylene each year. A tonne, or metric ton, is 1,000 kilograms, or about 2,204.6 pounds.

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