By JOHN MILLER
The State Journal
BEIJING – The West Virginia Department of Commerce today announced China Energy Investment Corporation Limited’s plan to invest $83.7 billion in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia.
President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed West Virginia Secretary of Commerce H. Wood Thrasher and China Energy President Ling Wen sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between China Energy and the state of West Virginia as part of the US-China Business Exchange trade mission to enhance relations between the two countries. The China Energy announcement in West Virginia was the largest investment in a series of projects in US corporations and other states totaling a reported $250 billion of investment in the United States.
The company has made several trips to West Virginia, and the MOU marks the first step in a series of commitments China Energy plans to make in the Mountain State.
“This is a great day for the state of West Virginia,” said West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice. “I’ve been saying for the last couple months that the tides are turning in West Virginia and this is proof. Today is another sign as we joined with my good friend President Trump to announce the largest investment in our state’s history.”
“West Virginia has actively sought direct foreign investment to strengthen and diversify our economy,” said WV Commerce Secretary Thrasher. “Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Hino Motors, Gestamp, Sogefi and other solid corporate citizens with international parent companies create jobs, generate incomes and support communities in West Virginia. In that same spirit, we welcome China Energy and the mutual benefits our energy collaboration will bring.”
China Energy selected West Virginia for this project because of the State’s position as a key energy-producing state and home to one of the world’s largest shale gas reserves, underpinned by a longstanding relationship between the two entities.
West Virginia enjoys a strong relationship with China Energy, including ongoing research initiatives with West Virginia University. WVU and then-Shenhua Group began their relationship in 2002 with joint research on direct coal liquefaction technology.
“Expanding Appalachia’s energy infrastructure, including developing a regional storage hub and market for natural gas liquids, will have a transformative effect on our economy, our security, and our future. From driving growth and creating jobs to maximizing America’s energy potential, the benefits for West Virginia and the country from this new investment will be significant and long-lasting,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito. “That’s why I worked diligently to expand West Virginia’s energy infrastructure and bring this investment to our state, advocating for it with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretaries Perry and Ross. I’m excited to continue working with the administration, and state, local and private-sector leaders to keep this effort moving forward.”
“I am thrilled Secretary Thrasher and China Energy have signed the Memorandum of Understanding today in Beijing. I have always said that West Virginians are the hardest working people in the world. I’m glad China Energy recognizes this and is working with us to create jobs and economic growth in our state,” said Senator Joe Manchin.
“This investment in shale gas resources located here in West Virginia will spur tremendous economic growth in our communities,” said Congressman David McKinley. “Secretary Thrasher has been in constant contact with my office as his team has worked out the details for this project. We commend him for his dedication to bringing new jobs to the Mountain State, and we look forward to the opportunities created by this new partnership.”
China Energy is the recent creation of a merger between China’s state-owned coal mining company Shenhua Group and energy producer Guodian Group. The merger positions China Energy as the world’s largest power company with more than 200,000 employees.