UPDATE: Tomblin Calls Proposed Cracker Plant "Game Changer " for W.Va.

By: Jeremy Edwards, WVMetroNews Email
By: Jeremy Edwards, WVMetroNews Email

Economic Impact of Cracker Spans Counties and Generations

If you looked around Thursday's big announcement, you'd see lots of adults excited about the future. However, if you looked up, you'd see some faces a few years younger.

"It's a huge deal to bring this amount of jobs into the area," said Garrett Dailey, a Senior at Parkersburg South High School.

You may be surprised to find Dailey this enthusiastic. After all, he's just in high school. However, come five years, and he will be looking for work.

"It's always something to keep in mind," said Dailey. "It's so close to home, and it's something you can make money at fast."

With unemployment in the region averaging around seven percent, Dailey won't be alone in the job hunt. Though with projected numbers, that hunt will likely be open season.

"The construction force goes anywhere from five thousand to twelve to thirteen thousand," estimated Wayne Dunn, President of Wood County's Commission.

That employment will ripples into growth for business owners like Tim Bond.

"With the additional employment, I think it'll allow us to maybe provide some services that we don't currently carry," said Bond.

However, even if you don't need a job, or shop at Bonds you'll still see the impact on the area from one word.. money.

"You're talking about taxes that support our infrastructure, our schools, our roads," said Jill Parsons, President and CEO of the Mid-Ohio Chamber of Commerce. "This is going to be a game-changer."

The new plant development will also likely increase property values.

UPDATE 11/14/13 @ 2:30 p.m.
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Odebrecht announced Thursday that Odebrecht will explore the development of a new petrochemical complex in Wood County, West Virginia.

The complex, Ascent - Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise ̶ would include an ethane Cracker, three polyethylene plants, and associated infrastructure for water treatment and energy co-generation. A purchase option on the anticipated project site in Parkersburg has already been secured.

Governor Tomblin calls this a "game changer" for the state.

"Although we realize much work remains to be done, this announcement of a potential project is tremendous news for our state and our region. I appreciate the hard work of my team from the Development Office and the Ascent team members who have come together to explore this investment. I look forward to working closely with them to help bring the project to fruition," Gov. Tomblin said.

Ascent's feasibility will depend on several important variables, including the contracting of long-term ethane supply, as well as financing, regulatory approvals, and appropriate governmental support.

Odebrecht will lead Ascent's investment and financing, as well as the operation of water and electric utilities. "Project Ascent fits within Odebrecht's commitment to be a partner in development in the regions where we operate," stated Fernando Reis, CEO of Odebrecht Environmental. "Moreover, Ascent fits into the strategy of our Utilities division, which seeks to invest and manage industrial assets."

Braskem would be responsible for petrochemical-related activities as well as the commercialization of the polyethylene after the investment is completed. "As the United States' leader in polypropylene production and with a significant footprint already in the region, we are excited about today's announcement," stated Fernando Musa, CEO of Braskem America. "Should Ascent materialize we look forward to serving our clients in the polyethylene market."

At this time, company officials would not comment on a possible opening date for the plants, or would not estimate how many jobs would be available, but they said it would be "many."

Company officials said, "Bear with us. The time frame for us is as soon as possible, but we aren't going to jump into a pool without knowing how deep the water is."

They say they chose West Virginia for several reasons, including the stable economy, stable environment, low taxes, exceptional quality of life, and tight knit communities. They said West Virginia was the right place for the project.

Several students attended the announcement Thursday. Officials told them with this, they are hoping to "create a legacy asset of the generation of the future."

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

ORIGINAL STORY 11/14/13 9:30 a.m.
WOOD COUNTY, W.Va, (WSAZ & WV MetroNews) -- A major economic development announcement by Governor Tomblin Thursday afternoon could lead to a cracker plant being built in Wood County.

The Governor will make the announcement at West Virginia University at Parkersburg at 2 p.m

Our sister station WTAP has confirmed that Tomblin will make an announcement regarding the sale of property along the Ohio River in Wood County.

Sources say that land could potentially be used to build a cracker plant tied to the natural gas industry. That could mean thousands of construction jobs.

The land is currently owned by the Sabic Oil Company.

The governor will reportedly announce a Brazilian company, Oderbrecht, has purchased the land in Washington, W.Va.

The site, for what is being called the Ascent project, is believed to be several hundred acres.

Sources say the cracker is “not quite a done deal” because some conditions and hurdles still must be met.

The state has for several years been trying to lure a company to build a multi-billion cracker plant following the advancement of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale.

The state has been working specifically with Brazilian companies since 2008.

A cracker uses ethane from natural gas as a feedstock and cracks it, making it into ethylene, a more valuable chemical used in the production of plastics.

If a cracker does go up in West Virginia it would be the largest economic investment in the state’s history.

The state lost out on a cracker announcement made by Shell last year. The company instead chose a southwestern Pennsylvania site but the project has run into several snags and construction has yet to begin.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

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