West Virginia readies for Petrochemical Industry jobs boost

I love to share news from some of the Independent editorials, and I ran across an article by Charles Young in the WV News. What a great article, finally some positive upbeat Industry news. It may just seem this way, but this past week or so it has been very doom and gloomy. Missiles, attacks, fires, trade talks…. anti this and anti that.

West Virginia has big plans for Natural Gas and the Petrochemical Industry, already putting in place a task force (“Downstream Jobs Task Force”) to help develop sites for manufacturing and attract investors to the area.

This is a quote worthy of a smile

““The industry, which would utilize the state’s abundant oil and gas reserves to create a wide variety of commercial and industrial products and components, is expected to create more than 100,000 jobs and bring in billions to the state’s economy, according to Gov. Jim Justice.””

Way to go West Virginia, but now I need to go find out how an “Ethane cracker” works…

Image courtesy of https://www.wvnews.com

WV’s oil and gas industry prepares for petrochemical manufacturing

by Charles Young SENIOR STAFF WRITER   Oct 12, 2019

The development of a petrochemical manufacturing industry would give West Virginia an opportunity to utilize its abundant resources of oil and gas, according to industry experts.

CHARLESTON — Industry insiders and state officials alike agree that development of petrochemical manufacturing is the future of West Virginia’s oil and gas industry.

The industry, which would utilize the state’s abundant oil and gas reserves to create a wide variety of commercial and industrial products and components, is expected to create more than 100,000 jobs and bring in billions to the state’s economy, according to Gov. Jim Justice.

In August, Justice established the Governor’s Downstream Jobs Task Force, which he said will develop sites for use by manufacturers and work to attract potential investors.

Justice said President Donald Trump and officials with the U.S. Department of Energy have told him West Virginia is on the verge of experiencing a boom in petrochemical-related activities, and the state must be prepared.

The increase in petrochemical activity is expected to begin within the next few years, Justice said.

State Department of Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch, who is a member of the task force, said its mission is to investigate the impact that petrochemical and downstream industries will have on commerce in the state.

“This is an exciting chance for West Virginia to continue to build on the rapid, unprecedented growth that we’ve seen under Governor Justice’s leadership,” Gaunch said. “I am glad to be a part of this group and will do everything I possibly can to let businesses know that — from here on out — West Virginia is the place to be, especially for those businesses that work in tandem with the petrochemical industry.”

Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, said development of this downstream industry would help the state to retain the monetary value of its resources.

“We are blessed to be sitting on top of some of the largest oil and natural gas formations in the world. We have the technology to access it efficiently. But in order to continue to produce this resource, there must be a demand for it, which means we must create downstream opportunities to use natural gas and natural gas liquids in West Virginia and our surrounding states,” she said. “Development of an ethane cracker and a natural gas liquids storage hub would create such demand and is extremely important to the vitality of the industry and West Virginia.”

This new industry could help lay the groundwork for a stable economy in West Virginia for decades to come, Blankenship said.

“By keeping natural gas liquids in our region and using it for feedstock to create the products we use every day, we will create thousands of more jobs in the manufacturing industry and forever change the economy and quality of life for citizens of our state,” she said. “Right now, the only market for natural gas liquids is on the Gulf Coast, which creates a national security issue during hurricanes and a non-economical means of supplying the feedstock to our manufacturing industry.”

State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Austin Caperton, who Justice tapped to lead the task force, said petrochemical manufacturing offers nearly limitless opportunities for West Virginia.

“We’re sitting on a gold mine — trillions of barrels of ethane,” Caperton said. “Ethane feeds the petrochemical industry, and that industry drives the modern economy. Today we produce about 260,000 barrels a day of ethane. By 2025, just six years from now, 640,000 barrels per day is projected.”

The region is projected to produce enough ethane to support five ethane cracker facilities, which turn raw ethane into ethylene, Caperton said.

“Ethylene is going to fuel and feed extensive downstream manufacturing facilities,” he said. “Not to mention pipelines and storage hubs — all driving unbelievable economic activity.”

West Virginia produces about 32% of all the natural gas in the United States, but must ship its valuable resources elsewhere for processing, Caperton said.

Senior Staff Writer Charles Young can be reached at 304-626-1447 or cyoung@theet.com

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