Parkersburg Cracker Plant Project on Hold

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Brazilian companies that considered building a cracker plant near Parkersburg, W. Va., are reevaluating whether they will make the billion-dollar investment in light of the current oil and gas market.

The companies, Braskem and Odebrecht, announced the potential $3.8 billion project, the Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise, known as Project Ascent, in November 2013 (READ STORY).

In a joint statement issued Thursday, Brasken and Odebrecht said a “reanalysis” of the project has begun. “From the beginning, we have taken a deliberate approach to Project Ascent. Under the current energy scenarios, the original configuration of Project Ascent needs to be re-evaluated and a final investment decision on the project will require more diligence.”

The statement came in response to press inquiries that followed Wednesday’s announcement that two Asian companies have selected a site in Belmont County for the potential construction of a cracker plant.

The companies, PTT Global Chemical, based in Thailand, and Marubeni Corp., a Tokyo-based trading house, said they would take the next 12-to 16 months to complete engineering design and permitting. A final investment decision would be made late next year, the companies said. (READ STORY)

A site in Monroe County is under consideration for third cracker plant proposed for the region, a project initiated by the startup company Appalachian Resins. But that project also appears to be stalled, according to press reports.

Meanwhile, in Monaca, Pa., Royal Dutch Shell is moving forward on obtained the necessary permits for its $4.4 billion cracker plant. Shell has yet to make a final decision on whether to go forward with the project.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled a public hearing May 5 on whether to award an air quality permit for the project.

Shell has purchased the property and has started demolition at the site.

The corporation continues to weigh whether to construct the plant, which would convert ethane gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays into ethylene and polyethylene pellets.

Ethane, one of the liquid gases found in the Utica and portions of the Marcellus, especially in southwestern Pennsylvania, is the major feedstock for cracker plants proposed for the region.

The plants use a process that “crack” ethane molecules, that is, breaks them into ethylene, and transforms that material into polyethylene resin pellets — the base ingredient for thousands of petrochemical products.

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