Ohio Pays Another $30M to Kickstart PTT Belmont Cracker Project

We’ve found one more bit of evidence that Ohio officials believe, rather strongly, that PTT Global Chemical will move forward with building a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker in Belmont County. JobsOhio, a private non-profit with a board appointed by the Ohio governor, gets most of its operating revenue from taxes on liquor sales in Ohio. JobsOhio previously spent $17 million in 2016 to clean up the site where PTT says they may/maybe/might build a cracker plant (see JobsOhio Picks Up the $17M Cost for Prepping OH Cracker Site). JobsOhio has just committed another $30 million for “site preparation work” for the cracker. One news source reports this is “the largest grant ever awarded in the Buckeye State” (by JobsOhio).
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Massive Explosion, Fire at Philadelphia Refinery

PES fire

Last Friday around 4 am there was a series of three explosions and a massive fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Refining Complex, the East Coast’s oldest and largest oil refinery. It took fire fighters until Saturday afternoon to extinguish the blaze. The main concern was that if the fire reached a tank of hydrofluoric acid used in the refining process it would be released as hydrogen fluoride (a poison), affecting nearby residents. Fortunately that didn’t happen. The thing about the story that caught our attention is that propane and butane (potentially sourced from the Marcellus) are what fed the fire.
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Ohio Says PTT Cracker Will Get Built – Bechtel Confirms EPC Contract

Last Thursday and Friday, MDN attended the Northeast Petrochemical Conference & Exhibition in Pittsburgh. There were a number of interesting stories coming from the event that we will chronicle this week. However, there was one bit of breaking news from the event: Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals Senior Project Manager of Pennsylvania Chemicals, Paul Marsden, made official what we previously shared as a rumor–that Bechtel has been selected as the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor to build the PTT cracker plant complex, when and if a positive final investment decision is made. According to a number of sources, that decision will get made this year.
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First US “Small-Scale” LNG Facility Launches in Jacksonville, FL

JAX LNG (click for larger version)

Something’s happening in Jacksonville, Florida with respect to LNG. It seems LNG plants of various types are popping up all over in Jacksonville! Nearly one year ago Eagle LNG opened its Maxville facility which liquefies natural gas into LNG for loading onto ships that use it as fuel (see Marc/Utica Gas Trucked to Jacksonville, FL for Use in LNG Ship). Eagle LNG is also working on a full-blown (smallish) LNG export plant near Jacksonville too (see FERC Grants Final Enviro OK to Jacksonville, FL LNG Export Plant). What we weren’t aware of, coming out of nowhere, is another small-scale LNG facility in Jacksonville, the JAX LNG facility, which opened for business earlier this month.
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MarkWest Hopedale Plant Problem Knocks 2 Bcf/d Offline in OH, WV

A pipeline feeding the MarkWest Hopedale Fractionation Facility in Jewett, Ohio was knocked offline last Sunday, and that outage caused a cascading effect throughout the region that forced three gas processing plants in West Virginia to temporarily scale back (or stop) operations, which further caused a ~2.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) decrease in gas flows on two interstate gas transmission pipelines. The good news is that the problem is now resolved.
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Rumor: PTT Ohio Cracker Project FID Likely Coming in September

Every now and again we traffic in rumors here on MDN, but we do so rarely and only when we trust the source of the rumor. In mid-March we brought you juicy tidbits from a highly trusted source about the PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker project in Belmont County, OH, a rumor about why a final investment decision (FID) to proceed has been delayed (see Rumor: Holdup in PTT OH Cracker Final Decision Due to Labor Rate). Our source is back, with more juicy updates, including a bombshell…
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AECOM Wins Contract to Service Shell Cracker Plant

Bechtel, a huge multi-national engineering firm, is the company building the mighty Shell ethane cracker in Monaca, PA. Shell won’t divulge when they think the cracker will be up and running (still a year or more away), but in what we consider a very good sign that the cracker will be operating sooner rather than later, Shell has just awarded another huge multi-national engineering firm, AECOM, the contract to maintain all the machinery at the cracker plant once it’s built and running.
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Marcellus/Utica and Permian Go Head-to-Head to Supply Gulf Coast

We’ve been keeping an eye on natural gas supplies coming out of the ground in the Permian (West Texas and eastern New Mexico) for more than a year. Why? Because all that associated gas being produced in the Permian has to go somewhere, and increasingly it goes to places where Marcellus/Utica gas also goes. A potent competitor. A year ago we told you about Permian and M-U gas competing in Midwestern markets (see Permian NatGas Increasingly Competes with M-U in Midwest). But it’s not just in the Midwest. Both plays increasingly now compete to supply markets along the Gulf Coast.
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Nation’s Biggest NatGas Processing Plant (in WV) Getting Bigger

MarkWest Sherwood Complex

MarkWest Energy, now part of MPLX (Marathon Petroleum) operates the nation’s largest cryogenic gas processing plant operation in the country–in West Virginia. The Sherwood Complex in Doddridge County, WV has the capacity to process up to 2.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natgas, along with fractionation (separating out ethane) of up to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd). This year the facility will expand.
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Rumor: Holdup in PTT OH Cracker Final Decision Due to Labor Rate

Every now and again we traffic in rumors here on MDN, but we do so rarely and only when we trust the source of the rumor. We have such a rumor to share, from a source we trust implicitly. We’ve been carping for over a year that PTT Global Chemical has repeatedly violated our deep well of patience by hinting that a “final investment decision” (FID) is “coming soon” for their $7-$10 billion ethane cracker complex in Belmont County, OH (see Still No Ohio Cracker Announcement, Preparations Continue). We now know why the FID is tardy.
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Tree Clearing Begins at PTT Cracker Site in Belmont County, OH

As we keep pointing out, PTT Global Chemical, the company that says they want to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH, keeps hinting that a “final investment decision” (FID) will come soon. Any day now. Just around the corner. They’ve been saying it for nearly two years.
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List of 16 Marcellus/Utica Gas Processing Plants

Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, published a post yesterday on the topic of “U.S. natural gas processing plant capacity and throughput have increased in recent years.” In that post EIA links to a handy dandy online tool that lists all of the active natural gas processing plants operating in the U.S. We used the tool to download all of the plants in PA, OH and WV, and further trimmed out the low volume (conventional only) processing plants, leaving a list of sweet 16 Marcellus/Utica processing plants–where they are located and how much they process.
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Still No Ohio Cracker Announcement, Preparations Continue

PTT Global Chemical has made and broken so many promises about the timing of a decision to build a $6 (lately cited as $10) billion ethane cracker in Belmont County, we’ve lost track of the number broken deadlines. Don’t get us wrong. We still hope and believe the project will happen, but we’ve grown weary of the delays in an announcement. And we don’t even live in the region!
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Methanol Plants Huge Users of Marcellus/Utica Gas

US Methanol broke ground in September 2017 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.
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