Economic Development

PTT’s Belmont County Cracker Project Grows to Size of Shell Plant

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The petrochemical plant PTT Global Chemical of Thailand says it hopes to build in Belmont County would be twice the size of what it first proposed in 2015. Not only that, it would produce nearly as much ethylene as the ethane cracker plant Royal Dutch Shell is building in Beaver County, Pa.

At a news conference Monday in Columbus, John Minor, CEO of JobsOhio, announced that PTT Global has executed an option to purchase another 300 acres at the site in Dilles Bottom, where FirstEnergy once operated a power plant. That plant has since been demolished and the land PTT originally purchased, 167 acres, has been “cleaned up and remediated,” he said.

The additional acreage is owned by the Ohio-West Virginia Excavating Co., according to Minor.

News of the project’s expansion follows by six weeks PTT’s announcement that it has entered into a partnership with Daelim Industrial Co. of South Korea, which is conducting a feasibility study.

Daelim’s infusion of capital and expertise is important, said PTT’s chief operating officer, Kongkrapan Intarajang, but most important is Daelim’s “level of passion to try to work hard and make this project work.”

Minor reported PTT has “spent in excess of $150 million in engineering and design work” for the project.

“With the addition of Daelim, the production output from this plant will nearly double,” he said, rising to 1.5 million metric tons per year of ethylene. “That’s important because that means greater investment in this project and this site. It will mean more jobs and will have a greater impact on the region.”

By comparison, Shell’s cracker is expected to produce 1.6 million metric tons per year of ethylene. Construction will continue through 2021 and employ as many of 6,000 skilled tradesmen.

The same number of workers would be needed to build PTT’s cracker, officials say.

PTT and Daelim have not make a final investment decision, Minor emphasized as he expressed optimism the go-ahead could come “later this year.”

Sean Kim, CEO of Daelim Energy, said it would be a “world-scale petrochemical plant.” He noted the strategic advantages of the Belmont County site: its proximity to “a cheap source of fuel, the ethane,” and to the marketplace.

“We plan to build a very sustainable business here,” Kim said.

Gov. John R. Kasich said PTT’s project has not progressed as quickly as many had thought when it was first announced. “The problem was money. This is expensive stuff and it held it up. PTT needed a partner and they found their partner,” he said.

“This is a home run and it’s right within our grasp,” Kasich continued.

“I am extremely hopeful that in a relatively short period of time we can make an announcement.”

VIDEO:
News conference was streamed live by OhioChannel.org

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.