Drilling Down

PTT Global Delays Decision on Belmont Cracker Plant

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – PTTGC America, the Thailand-based petrochemicals giant considering building a $5.7 billion ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, today announced it would postpone its decision on whether to move forward with the project.

The final investment decision is planned toward the end of this year instead of its initial target of March, Toasaporn Boonyapipat, president and CEO of PTTGC America, said in a statement.

“We now anticipate reaching a final investment decision in late 2017, which is several months later than what we anticipated,” he said in a press released issued Tuesday afternoon.

Boonyapipat said that the project requires additional attention related to the initial designs that were submitted to the company by two engineering, procurement and construction contractors. “We recognized the 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 economic feasibility of the project,” he said.

“PTTGC America considers this process to be critical to the success of the project,” he said. “We are committed to utilizing all of our resources and in order to ensure that all technical and economic criteria are met.”

PTTGC America announced more than two years ago its intent to construct a large ethane cracker plant that would convert ethane gas from the Utica shale into polyethylene, a base ingredient found in most plastics. The plant would create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs.

Matt Englehart, spokesman for JobsOhio, said the company has already made a substantial commitment, and the announcement is merely a revision in the timeline. “Today’s announcement is a new timeline on whether the project will move ahead,” he said in a statement. “The people at PTTGC America continue to work around the clock, investing their time, talent and resources in hopes of making it happen. The commitment they have demonstrated speaks volumes about their desire for this project to go forward.”

A similar project – a $6 billion ethane cracker plant owned by Royal Dutch Shell – is now under construction near Monaca, Pa. along the Ohio River. That complex is expected to be finished in the early 2020s, the company has said.

“For some in the Belmont County community, especially the project area residents, we recognize this delay may cause further uncertainty and inconvenience, but we hope that the strong support we have received to date will continue,” Boonyapipat said.

Boonyapipat said that the project has made progress through arranging feedstock and utility suppliers, product marketers and logistics providers. The project has also been awarded three environmental permits related to site preparation.

The project site consists of 500 acres of former industrial land along the Ohio River at Dilles Bottom in Belmont County. The Ohio EPA is currently reviewing the projects air quality application.

“Significant site preparation has been completed over the past year,” the CEO said and expressed the company’s gratitude to all those involved in the project, including Gov. John Kasich, JobsOhio, the state legislature, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson and the entire congressional delegation of Ohio.

“We greatly appreciate the continuous support of all who are working to make this project happen,” he said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.