Waiting Game: Cracker Plants Talk to Property Owners

waiting gameWest Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio are all in the hunt to land an ethane cracker plant in their respective states (see the long list of MDN stories on a potential cracker plant in the Marcellus/Utica Shale region). According to WV Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette, Shell and another unnamed company are now in talks with private property owners. That is, the deals are now being negotiated, and it’s a waiting game to see the outcome.

All three states have offered huge tax incentives to land the plant. Shell originally set January for an announcement, but changed it a few weeks ago to be February.

West Virginia’s hunt for a multibillion-dollar chemical plant has come down to talks between potential investors and private property owners, Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said Thursday.

Burdette told The Associated Press that the two companies that each want to build a massive "cracker” facility in the Marcellus shale region are negotiating with owners of potential sites.

Burdette said Shell has focused on sites around New Martinsville, on the Ohio River in Wetzel County, and points northward. Those potential locations include Hancock County, where there appear to be suitable tracts near the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort.

The other company the state is courting, which officials have not identified, is reviewing sites along the Kanawha River as well as in the Parkersburg area, Burdette said.

But Ohio and Pennsylvania are also competing for these facilities. Each has offered or proposed tax incentives to land one or more.(1)

WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is confident that West Virginia will land at least one, and possibly two, cracker plants:

"I feel very confident we will have at least one and possibly two crackers in West Virginia," Tomblin said. "Each that we attract will create about 12,000 jobs in this state.

"For the past 12 to 14 months we’ve had discussions with investors around the world about obtaining an ethane cracker in West Virginia," Tomblin said Thursday in a speech in South Charleston.(2)

(1) Charleston Gazette/AP (Feb 2, 2012) – State cracker chase enters waiting phase

(2) Charleston Daily Mail (Feb 2, 2012) – Tomblin remains confident state will attract a cracker