PARKERSBURG - West Virginia's congressional delegation lauded the announcement that a site in Wood County was chosen for a billion-dollar ethane cracker plant.
The announcement was made Thursday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and representatives of Odebrecht, a Brazilian petrochemicals company, at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. The news ended years of speculation.
"Today's announcement is great news for Wood County and the entire state of West Virginia," said Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. "The thousands of jobs and billions in investment that will result from this project will transform our state's economy for decades to come."
Shell's decision two years ago to locate its cracker plant in Pennsylvania was a disappointment, "but we vowed to not let that happen again."
"After confidential discussions with Odebrecht and Braskem over the past two years it is exciting to see this project finally coming to fruition and to be able to discuss it publicly," he said.
The facility will be called Ascent, an acronym for Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise. It will include the cracker, which separates compounds in natural gas for use in the plastics and petrochemical industries, three polyethylene plants and facilities for water tratment and energy co-generation.
The site is SABIC plastics on DuPont Road, of which Odebrecht has an option to purchase. SABIC is closing the plant in 2015 and consolidating operations, a decision made separate from the ethane cracker discussions.
Braskem, a multinational company, will oversee the petrochemical-related activities and the commercialization of the polyethylene.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said West Virginia and Braskem have already done business.
"West Virginia already enjoys a longstanding relationship with Odebrecht through its Braskem America plastics plant in Wayne County and I look forward to watching that relationship and this new proposal blossom with the fervent hope that this new venture translates into the growth of jobs and economic opportunities locally," he said.
The announcement shows the The Marcellus Shale can help power our economy
West Virginia has a long history of innovation in the chemical industry. While the construction and operation of an ethane cracker will create good-paying jobs, it also significantly improves the states ability to attract other employers who rely on the chemicals the ethane cracker would provide," Capito said. "West Virginia can leverage this project to attract and retain the best and the brightest, further fueling our states economy."
Capito is the presumptive GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2014. The presumptive Democratic nominee is Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
"While there are additional steps that must occur before this development goes forward, the potential for thousands of well-paying construction and permanent jobs is tremendously exciting," Tennant said.
In other comments, Delegate Tim Miley, speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, said the cracker announcement is a sign of progress in West Virginia.
"This is a first step, but it is a huge step, probably the biggest of all steps that need to take place for West Virginia's natural gas industry, and we will do everything we can to make this plant a reality, " Miley said.
Legislation passed into law in 2011 to encourage development of the Marcellus Shale was a factor, he said.
"This multi-billion dollar investment could truly be a game changer for the state of West Virginia and her people," state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. "While the process will be long and many steps must now be taken to ensure these plants are built, our office will do everything in our power to assist the state, Wood County and Odebrecht in making project Ascent a reality."