Ohio EPA to Hold Air Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Nov. 27

PTT Global Chemical announced in April 2015 they want to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time, PTT has purchased land, paid $100 million to get the cracker facility designed, and repeatedly said a final investment decision (FID) is imminent. It’s been imminent for more than two years now. Belmont County officials recently said the decision is coming “by the end of this year” (see Belmont, OH Leaders Say PTT Cracker Decision Coming This Year). But we’ve read comments by others who say the decision won’t happen until sometime next year (see Rumblings that PTT Will Once Again Delay OH Cracker Decision). We finally have some signs of life that a decision is, indeed, coming soon.
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Marcellus LNG Export Plant in NEPA Will Generate Lots of Traffic

Last week MDN brought you the exciting news that New Fortress Energy is planning to build an LNG (liquefied natural gas) liquefaction plant in Wyalusing (Bradford County), PA (see Big News! Marcellus LNG Export Plant Coming to Landlocked NEPA). The $800 million plant will supercool and liquefy locally extracted Marcellus Shale gas and ship it first by truck, eventually by rail, to “customers in the U.S. as well as abroad.” The plant received initial blessing from the Wyalusing Town Planning Commission last week. But not all is butterflies and unicorns. At a planning commission meeting, a New Fortress Energy official revealed that the plant will generate 10-15 tractor trailer trips per hour–24/7/365. That’s a truck turning in to the facility once every 4-6 minutes–call it an average of one every 5 minutes.
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Big News! Marcellus LNG Export Plant Coming to Landlocked NEPA

We have some exciting news to share. A company called New Fortress Energy is planning to build an LNG (liquefied natural gas) liquefaction plant in Wyalusing (Bradford County), PA. The $800 million (!) plant will supercool and liquefy locally extracted Marcellus Shale gas and ship it first by truck, eventually by rail, to “customers in the U.S. as well as abroad.” Meaning exports. How cool is that? It seems that LNG liquefaction plants no longer have to be located along a shoreline to engage in exports. Which company will provide the gas to liquefy and export? MDN has the exclusive answer, and yes, you need to be an MDN paying subscriber to find out…
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LNG Liquefaction Plant May be Coming to Central Massachusetts

Northeast Energy Center, LLC, plans a $100 million LNG plant in Charlton. (Liberty Energy Trust)

As it happens, this is the second LNG liquefaction plant story that landed on our desk today. Northeast Energy Center, backed by Liberty Energy and NorthStar Industries, is proposing to build an LNG liquefaction plant in central Massachusetts. Our other LNG plant story today (see Big News! Marcellus LNG Export Plant Coming to Landlocked NEPA) makes sense to us because that plant is located in the middle of a rich Marcellus gas region in northeast Pennsylvania. But building an LNG plant in the middle of Massachusetts, far from low-cost gas supplies? What gives?
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Belmont, OH Leaders Say PTT Cracker Decision Coming This Year

Last Friday three county commissioners from Belmont County, OH took a field trip to visit Beaver County, PA, touring the Shell ethane cracker site and talking with Beaver County officials about how the project has impacted that area. Tuesday night, a member of the Potter Township (PA) Board of Supervisors came to a meeting of local leaders in Belmont County, to talk about the Shell cracker project and what such a project in Belmont could do for the Ohio Valley. PTT Global Chemical is supposedly close to making a final investment decision on building a cracker in Belmont. The interesting comment coming from Tuesday’s meeting was about the timing of a decision to build the PTT cracker: “It [the decision] will be revealed by the end of the year.” So says Belmont officials.
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Primus Green Energy’s WV Methanol Plant Delayed to 2020

In March 2016, MDN brought you news that Primus Green Energy, a gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology company, planned to build a 160 metric tons per day (MT/day) methanol plant at “a manufacturing site in the Marcellus shale region” in 2017 (see Primus Building GTL Methanol Plant in Marcellus Region in 2017). The plant will convert Marcellus Shale gas into methanol. In November 2017, we learned that the plan had been delayed to 2018, and that the location would be in New Martisville, West Virginia (see Primus Green Energy’s WV Methanol Plant Online in 2018). Primus has moved the date once again–this time to 2020.
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30-Story Quench Tower Set in Place for Shell Ethane Cracker

On Sunday, what will be the tallest and heaviest piece of equipment that’s part of the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker in Monaca (Beaver County), PA was hoisted into place. It’s called a “quench tower” and it looks like a humongous silo. It’s 300-feet high, which translates into about 30 stories. One of the world’s largest cranes had to be reserved a year ago in order to do the lifting. It took all day, but by 3:30 pm, the quench tower was standing upright–yet another monument to the power of the Marcellus Shale.
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Rumblings that PTT Will Once Again Delay OH Cracker Decision

PTT Global Chemical announced in April 2015 they want to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time PTT has purchased land, paid $100 million to get the cracker facility designed, and repeatedly said a final investment decision (FID) is imminent. It’s been imminent for more than two years now, and rumor has it the decision is delayed yet again.
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WV Leaders Discuss “Downstream” NatGas Development

Some 200 business and government leaders in West Virginia attended the state’s Economic Outlook Conference in Charleston this past Wednesday. A key focus of the event was a panel discussion on the topic of “downstream” natural gas development–meaning ethane cracker plants and manufacturing plants to take advantage of the coming flood of cheap plastics from cracker plants. The speakers spoke of urgency, to prevent a generational opportunity from slipping away.
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Dominion Sells 2 Gas-Fired Plants; Blue Racer Midstream For Sale

Dominion Energy has found a buyer for two of its natural gas-fired electric generating plants, one located in Pennsylvania, the other in Rhode Island. In July MDN told you that Dominion was shopping the two plants, hoping to raise $1+ billion (see Dominion Looking to Sell Gas-Fired Power Plants in PA, RI). One plant, the Fairless Power Station, is located in Bucks County, PA near Philadelphia. The other, Manchester Street Power Station, is located in the People’s Republic of Rhode Island. So why would Dominion, a company that really digs natgas, want to dump two of its natgas power generating plants situated in large, urban areas? In a word, regulation, or rather lack of it. Both of the plants Dominion wants to dump are “merchant plants”–meaning they sell electricity on the open market, at market rates. Regulated plants, on the other hand, have their prices determined by quasi-governmental agencies. Selling electric that’s regulated means the potential upside is limited, but it also means you are guaranteed a certain price and can count on receiving that price year in and year out. In the lingo of high finance, being regulated “derisks” a company–makes revenue streams predictable, which investors like. So Dominion is on a mission to (a) pay down debt by selling assets like these two merchant power plants, and (b) provide more revenue certainty for investors. And it looks like they achieved their goal, selling the two plants for $1.23 billion to Starwood Energy. In the same Dominion announcement about the Starwood sale, the company said they will continue to shop their 50% ownership stake in Blue Racer Midstream, which is the first we’ve heard that Dominion is looking to unload their share. Dominion says there is “strong interest” in buying it…
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Shell Ethane Cracker Gets Reprieve from Trump Steel Quotas

Shell ethane cracker plant under construction in Monaca, PA – so many cranes you can’t count them!

RINO Pat Toomey can rest easy–there will be no delays in building the $6 billion Shell ethane cracker near Pittsburgh. The Trump Administration previously slapped a 25% tariff (i.e. tax) AND quotas on imported steel coming from countries dumping steel in our markets, driving out our own steel industry. Last week Trump lifted the quota from steel coming from certain countries, including Brazil. Shell is getting steel they need for the cracker from Brazil. Indeed, Shell’s Brazilian steel is already sitting in a U.S. port, undelivered due to the quota (a limit on how much can be imported). Now Shell’s steel can get shipped to Pittsburgh and used by the army of people working there. But get this: Shell will still have to pay the 25% tariff/extra charge for their Brazilian steel. Toomey, an early and persistent Trump critic (and a DC swamp dweller), one of PA’s two U.S. Senators, recently claimed Trump’s quotas/tariffs would result in layoffs and delays at the cracker (see Sen. Pat Toomey Claims Trump Tariffs Will Delay Shell Cracker). With that barrier now gone, Toomey will have to find something else to criticize about Trump. How about his hair?…
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How MarkWest Gets Marcellus/Utica NGLs to Market

The Marcellus and Utica Shale layers in Southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio produce a boatload of NGLs–natural gas liquids. One company had the foresight to plan a strategy to separate, transport and sell those NGLs. That company was MarkWest Energy, now known as MPLX following a purchase by/merger into Marathon Petroleum. MarkWest’s plan is firing on all cylinders. The experts at RBN Energy have analyzed MarkWest’s initial strategy, now largely complete, and their long-term strategy, still in the works, to give us a great snapshot of how NGLs are moving from our region to Midwestern and Canadian markets…
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Local Leaders Get Ready for Belmont County, OH Cracker Plant

It sure feels like PTT Global Chemical, the Thailand-based petrochemical giant that says it wants to build an ethane cracker in Belmont County, OH, is getting close to making a positive final investment decision (FID). On Monday we told you that an Ohio State Representative, Andy Thompson, said such a decision will be forthcoming in “a month or so” (see PTT Decision on Ohio Cracker Announced in Next “Month or So”). We have more evidence of an impending decision. Recently two dozen local county officials, from both sides of the Ohio River, went on a field trip to Beaver County where Shell is building their $6 billion ethane cracker. The officials wanted to see, first-hand, how the project is impacting the local area. They got eyes- and earsful. They came back jazzed. Here’s our point: A horde of local officials doesn’t traipse around the countryside wasting time unless they are convinced the project is going to happen. From the language this group of officials is using, and their overall demeanor, we’d say the PTT Belmont cracker is a happening project…
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PTT Decision on Ohio Cracker Announced in Next “Month or So”

Sometimes you spot an innocent, off-the-cuff remark that’s not really part of the intended story–but has huge meaning. Such was the case when we spotted a story quoting Ohio House of Representatives member Andy Thompson (Republican, 95th District covering Carroll, Harrison and Noble counties, and portions of Washington and Belmont counties). Thompson, who (to his credit) is not running for reelection after four terms [NOTE: a sharp MDN reader emailed to say Mr. Thompson was term-limited out and could not run again], gave a speech at the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association last week in St. Clairsville. In his remarks, Thompson talked about the work of Shale Crescent USA, an economic development organization formed a few years ago to encourage business growth in the Ohio Valley based on low natural gas prices that allow manufacturers to operate more efficiently–with easy access to half the population of the United States and Canada. Although Thompson’s focus was not on the PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker project potentially planned for Belmont County, he had some VERY interesting remarks about that project and others like it…
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DOE Sec. Perry Attends Cove Point LNG Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Yesterday a bunch of dignitaries gathered in Lusby, Maryland to celebrate the launch of Dominion’s Cove Point LNG facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Yes, the facility has been up and running since April (see Cove Point LNG Ships First Marcellus Cargo to Japan). This was a well-deserved, back-slapping soiree, made all the more sweet for the obstacles Dominion had to overcome from antis when building the facility. Joining the celebration were officials from Japan and India (the countries buying all of the gas shipped from Cove Point), along with the top brass from Dominion. Special guest of honor was Dept. of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, there to deliver a message from his boss, Donald Trump. Perry said Trump is, “eager to unleash our bounty to the world” and that’s why President Trump is “so supportive of this infrastructure project right here in Cove Point.” Very very supportive. 😉 Here’s how it went down yesterday on the shore of the beautiful Chesapeake Bay…
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Progress on US Methanol Plant in Institute, WV – Praxair Providing O2

US Methanol broke ground last September in Institute (Kanawha County), WV to build its very first methanol production plant (see US Methanol Breaks Ground on First Plant in West Virginia). Methanol plants convert natural gas into methanol, used as a chemical feedstock (raw material) to create other things, like gasoline, antifreeze, plastic bottles–even LED and LCD screens. Methanol plants use a LOT of natural gas, hence our interest. A number of dignitaries attended the groundbreaking in Institute, including colorful WV Governor Jim Justice. Factoid: the plant in Institute is being constructed/assembled from a deconstructed methanol plant from Brazil. The new plant, called Liberty One, was supposed to open in mid-2018. That’s now changed. It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed Liberty One and its progress. It popped up on our radar when we spotted a press release from Praxair, an industrial gas company, announcing they have been selected as a partner to provide Liberty One with oxygen–lots of oxygen–to be used in the plant as part of the chemical process of converting methane into methanol. When we checked the Liberty One project site, we noticed the timeline to complete the plant has changed–from the previously announced mid-2018 to fourth quarter of 2019…
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