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A multi-billion-dollar cracker plant may be built in eastern Ohio
This would be the fourth cracker project for the Utica/Marcellus shale region
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


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Tim Rudell
 
Crackers are chemical plants that break down ethane molecules into smaller chemical components.
Courtesy of WOSU
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Even as eastern Ohio’s energy boom quiets down in the face of depressed oil and natural gas prices, there are rumblings of huge new investments in the region’s Utica Shale play. WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports on a $5 billion plan for Belmont County.

LISTEN: Potential jobs for Ohio's Appalachian region

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Along with methane and crude oil, shale wells in eastern Ohio produce “wet gases” — liquids like ethane and butane. Energy prices don’t affect those much because they are used as raw materials for the chemical, polymer and paint industries. And they’re big business. 

That’s why PTT Company, Ltd, a state-owned corporation in Thailand, is talking about spending $5 billion in Belmont County to build a “cracker” plant to process Utica Shale wet gasses.

Economic impact
If PTT goes through with it, the project will create up to 10,000 construction jobs for five years and employ as many as a thousand people permanently.

“We all know that that’s been a fairly poor part of the state for a long period of time, so this could have a huge impact on that area,” says Chemical and energy expert Bob Chase of nearby Marietta College.

The State of Ohio is expected to make an announcement on the project this week, but is mum for now.  

Cracker plants under discussion for the region include a Royal Dutch Shell facility for the Pittsburgh area, Brazilian energy companies Odebrecht and Braskem in Wood County, W.Va.; and a smaller volume plant in Monroe County by Appalachian Resins Corporation.

 In all three cases, as with the Belmont County project, the companies and investors are still exploring their options and have not yet committed to construction.

Related WKSU Stories

What are world oil prices doing to Ohio's oil and gas ambitions?
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Midstream growth fuels fracking boom
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

To keep the drilling boom from going bust, go midstream
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

 
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