A Pulse! WV Ethane Cracker Project Comes Back from the Dead

pulseWhat’s this? The all-but-dead ethane cracker project planned for West Virginia has new life! (Perhaps the Shell announcement has something to do with it?) Brazilian company Odebrecht has pulled out of the Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise (ASCENT) project previously announced for the Parkersburg, WV area (see Odebrecht Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker). However, Odebrect subsidiary Braskem has confirmed they will now move forward with developing the project on their own. If this bears out, it is fantastic news for a state that (in our opinion) deserves a cracker. But before you get overly excited, Braskem’s announcement that they are now the lead on the project is still not a confirmation they will build it. Braskem is still in the evaluation stage…
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A Crack of Light for the West Virginia Cracker?

Speaking at an industry conference in Pittsburgh last week, West Virginia’s Dept. of Commerce Secretary, Keith Burdette, indicated there’s still a faint blip on the monitor that Odebrecht may yet decide to build an ethane cracker plant in Wood County, WV. According to Burdette, Odebrecht’s subsidiary Braskem will purchase more land for the cracker by the end of the first quarter. If the Odebrecht cracker project was as dead as a door nail (which it has appeared to be in recent months), it doesn’t seem like they would continue to spend money on it. Right? Burdette also said all three large cracker projects, Odebrecht, Shell’s project in PA, and PTT Global’s project in OH have indicated they are likely to push off a final investment decision (FID) until 2017. Bummer…
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Will 2016 be the Year *Somebody* Commits to Building a Cracker?

Will somebody, somewhere PLEASE build the northeast an ethane cracker plant? Pretty please? We noticed a couple of stories that indicate 2016 is THE year that at least one company will likely pull the trigger on an FID–a Final Investment Decision to build an ethane cracker. But which company is likely to do it? Shell? PTT Global? Odebrecht? Leaving Odebrecht’s Parkersburg, WV proposed cracker aside for the moment (a project where we barely detect a pulse), both the Shell plant, planned for Beaver County, PA, and the PTT Global plant, planned for Belmont County, OH, have seen impressive signs of activity in 2015. Which of those two will likely say “yes” in 2016?…
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Odebrecht’s WV Ethane Cracker Plant May Not be Dead After All

stoppress.jpgWait a minute! We thought the proposed Odebrecht ethane cracker plant near Parkersburg in Wood County, WV was all but dead. Lifeless. In April the company said it was “re-evaluating plans” to build it (see Odebrecht Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker). In June, Odebrecht’s Brazilian CEO was arrested, casting further doubt on the project (see Odebrecht CEO Arrested; What Does it Mean for WV Cracker Plant?). Since that time we’ve seen a bit of cheerleading and some empty platitudes from WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin who hasn’t given up on the project (see WV Gov Tomblin Continues to Cheerlead for Wood Co. Cracker Plant). But we didn’t detect a pulse. Both the Shell cracker (in PA) and PTT Global cracker (in OH) have had robust developments that indicate those plants are making serious progress. But nothing for the Odebrecht project all year long–that is, until now…
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WV Gov Tomblin Continues to Cheerlead for Wood Co. Cracker Plant

cheerleaderThe one ethane cracker plant project announced for the Marcellus/Utica region that once seemed the mostly likely to proceed now seems the least likely to move forward–the Brazilian-based Odebrecht project planned for Wood County, WV. The ASCENT (Appalachina Shale Cracker Enterprise) project seemed to have the most momentum in 2014 (see Odebrecht’s WV Ethane Cracker has The Big Mo–Momentum). But then the price of oil crashed and clouds started to appear for the project. In April Odebrecht pushed the pause button on the project (see Odebrecht Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker). Odebrecht itself has been caught up in scandal in Brazil and it’s CEO was arrested in June (see Odebrecht CEO Arrested; What Does it Mean for WV Cracker Plant?). Both the Shell cracker project in Pennsylvania, which once seemed unlikely, and a new ethane cracker project for Ohio, have both since made significant progress, making the Odebrecht project seem all the more unlikely. However, WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is still cheerleading for his state’s cracker plant. He recently said, “We feel very strongly they’ll continue to build the cracker plant”…
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Odebrecht CEO Arrested; What Does it Mean for WV Cracker Plant?

Scandal has rocked Odebrecht, the Brazilian company that in November 2013 announced it wants to build a $4 billion ethane cracker plant complex near Parkersburg, WV (see WV Announces Brazilian Company to Build Ethane Cracker Complex). Marcelo Odebrecht, president and CEO of Odebrecht SA–one of the largest construction companies in South America–was recently arrested for being part of a plan that stole “billions of dollars” from Brazil’s state-run Petrobras oil company. His arrest raises legitimate questions about the viability of the proposed Parkersburg ethane cracker project. We can all pretend that the arrest of the CEO of the company proposing to build the plant has little or no effect on the future of the project–but we’re not children. So let’s not pretend. What do you think is occupying Mr. Odebrecht’s attention these days–building a petrochemical plant in far-off West Virginia, or staying out of jail?…
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WV Gov Tomblin Not Ready to Give Up on Odebrecht Ethane Cracker

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the man who has worked hard to land an ethane cracker plant for his state, is still hopeful that WV will get them a cracker. In a wide-ranging talk at the Wheeling Rotary Club on Monday, Tomblin said Odebrecht, the Brazilian company that announced its interest in building an ethane cracker complex near Parkersburg, WV, continues to move forward with the project–“but at a slower pace.” That certainly is a bit of good news. We’ve not heard anything about Odebrecht advancing the ball on their project since the company announced in April, “the original configuration…needs to be re-evaluated, and a final investment decision on the project will require more diligence.” We took that to mean they’ve hit the pause button (see Odebrect Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker). But Tomblin and his administration don’t view it the same way. Instead of hitting the brakes, Tomblin says Odebrecht has simply reduced pressure on the gas pedal a bit…
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WV Officials Say Odebrecht Considering Reconfigured Cracker Plant

As MDN told you a month ago, Brazilian company Odebrecht is signaling they may not build an ethane cracker plant near Parkersburg, WV after all (see Odebrect Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker). Which is a big disappointment, since the project seemed to have so much forward momentum. However, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s representatives are still not defeated–far from it. They don’t see Odebrecht’s statement that the plant “needs to be re-evaluated” (Odebrecht’s words, not ours) as a definite “no” so they’re continuing to hold out hope that it will get built, but perhaps modified from its original plan…
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Odebrecht Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker

pause buttonMore troubling talk from Odebrecht about a proposed ethane cracker plant in Parkersburg, WV. In February, MDN brought you the first tremors in what until that point had been nothing but positive signs the project would move forward (see First Cloud Appears for Odebrect WV Ethane Cracker Plant Project and Parkersburg Cracker Plant Decision May Not Come in 2015 After All). Now comes word that Odebrect and its American subsidiary Braskem have pushed the pause button on the WV cracker project…
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Parkersburg Cracker Plant Decision May Not Come in 2015 After All

Last week MDN noted having spotted the first cloud over the Odebrect project to build a $3 billion ethane/petrochemical plant near Parkersburg, WV (see First Cloud Appears for Odebrect WV Ethane Cracker Plant Project). Ostensibly it is the low price of oil that’s causing Odebrecht to reconsider whether or not they will move forward with the project. As we pointed out, “reevaluating” doesn’t mean they’ve decided not to move forward. It just means they’re taking their time. There is, however, a marked change in the “feeling” about this project. Prior to recent comments by Odebrecht the very strong presumption is that the project will proceed. Now? That presumption is no longer quite so strong. WV officials, from both the state and from Wood County where the cracker is due to be built, weighed in with their observation that it’s not the location of the cracker that’s in question…
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First Cloud Appears for Odebrect WV Ethane Cracker Plant Project

Hmmm. Is there a cloud on the horizon over the Odebrecht ethane cracker project proposed for Parkersburg, WV? Until now every single thing we’ve read or heard (or discussions we’ve had with David Peebles from Odebrecht) have indicated the WV ethane cracker project is full speed ahead, pedal to the metal. It was only at the tail end of 2013 that the project was announced (see WV Announces Brazilian Company to Build Ethane Cracker Complex). The $4 billion project will construct not only an ethane cracker, but several petrochemical plants as well (see Odebrect Cracker Aims to Attract Chemical/Plastics Manufacturing). In fairness, Odebrecht has said a final decision won’t be made until later this year (see Odebrecht WV Cracker Plant Decision “By End of 2015?). And until now, it certainly seemed like this project, even more than the Shell cracker in Pennsylvania, has had the momentum. Then we read this…
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WV/OH Officials Going on Field Trip to Prepare for Cracker Plant

The Odebrecht ethane cracker plant planned for the Parkersburg, WV area continues to walk/smell/act/behave like it’s the real deal. The latest evidence: Odebrecht has told area officials around Parkersburg, you need to be prepared for when the 100% official announcement comes, cause at that point, things will happen fast. So area officials are boning up now to be prepared for an influx of people and jobs–both a good thing, and a challenge. Area officials from Wood County, WV and neighboring Washington County, OH will head to the bitter-cold north country–Minot, North Dakota–in January (!) to see how that community has dealt with a rapidly expanding population and influx of new jobs due to the Bakken Shale…
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WV Trip to Brazil Reaffirms Cracker Plant: “Comfort Level Strong”

high comfort levelLast week West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin led a trade delegation on a junket to Brazil to talk with officials from Odebrecht and Braskem about the $3 billion proposed ethane cracker plant/petrochemical complex the companies are planning for Parkersburg, WV (see WV Gov. Tomblin Leads Trade Mission to Brazil re Cracker Plant). Accompanying Tomblin on the trip were his wife, Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette and several others. Fresh back from the trip both Tomblin and Burdette have very encouraging comments. Burdette in particular effused about the ASCENT cracker plant project, saying: “Our comfort level [that the project will happen] is very strong.” Burdette also said (perhaps in response to criticisms about an expensive taxpayer-funded trip to Brazil) that it was important for WV officials to spend time in their offices–as a courtesy and to show commitment to a project that the company is spending beaucoup bucks on in WV…
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WV Gov. Tomblin Leads Trade Mission to Brazil re Cracker Plant

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office has announced that the Governor and first lady, along with Keith Burdette, Secretary of the West Virginia Dept. of Commerce and several other officials, are going on a road trip to Brazil to babysit, er advance the ball on the ethane cracker plant planned for the Parkersburg, WV area by Brazilian company Odebrecht and its sister company Braskem. The trade delegation will discuss “next steps” with their counterparts–to ensure everything is on track. It’s also a nice little junket/vacation to get the Guv (a Democrat) out of town after his state essentially turned Republican underneath his feet in Tuesday’s election…
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MDN’s “Juvenile” Needling of Shell over Slow Cracker Pace

duck paddlingAn MDN reader wrote editor Jim Willis yesterday to take issue with our observation that “it’s about time” Shell did something to advance their ethane cracker project in Beaver County, PA (see Shell to Hold Info Session on Monaca Ethane Cracker Next Week). In a not-so-subtle way, the reader essentially told us to get our heads out of our…frac sand…and take note that Shell has been very active over the past year or so with advancing their project, contrary to our “juvenile” remarks suggesting otherwise. In particular, the old Horsehead Holding Corp. zinc smelter at the site was shut down this past May. The buildings were knocked down and are now almost completely removed from the site. Our not-so-subtle source also pointed us to Jeff Burd’s excellent blog site called Building Pittsburgh. Jeff refers to Shell and their cracker project as being like a duck…
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Economist Briefs WVU-P on Odebrecht Ethane Cracker

In February, the former director of West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research and professor emeritus at WVU, Tom Witt, released a study about the coming economic miracle that will be the Odebrecht ethane cracker plant in Parkersburg, WV (see Economist Releases Report on WV Cracker Plant’s Economic Impact). Witt’s previous employer, WVU, also hired him to brief them about this coming economic miracle. They specifically want to be sure their educational programs will help prepare the local workforce. Witt briefed the Parkersburg Board of Governors earlier this month. What did he tell them?…
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