PTT signs memo to enhance ‘quality of life’

Photo Provided In this 2015 photo, PTT Global Chemical President and CEO Supattanapong Punmeechaow meets with Ohio Gov. John Kasich to discuss the potential Dilles Bottom ethane cracker plant.

DILLES BOTTOM — Officials with Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical said they will “enhance the well-being and quality of life” for those who live in the Dilles Bottom area if the firm builds its estimated $6 billion ethane cracker there.

Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas admits it remains to be seen what this actually means. Still, he sees the announcement as continued progress toward an affirmative final investment decision.

“I do know that it reaffirms the strong partnership between the state of Ohio and PTT Global Chemical America,” he said. “With that said, I cannot but think this remains continued positive news as the two entities continue to work together to one common goal: a positive plant announcement sooner than later.”

According to the company, PTT officials signed a memorandum of understanding with JobsOhio during the weekend. JobsOhio is the private corporation Gov. John Kasich established in 2011 as a replacement for the state-run Department of Development.

“The PTT Global Chemical America team’s perpetual work as well as its investment in time and resources demonstrates the company’s sincere hopes of making this project happen,” JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart said. “We look forward to continuing this effort with PTT Global Chemical America, and are hopeful that they can make a positive final investment decision in the coming months.”

Company officials said PTT Global Chemical President and CEO Supattanapong Punmeechaow joined JobsOhio President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor in signing the memorandum, according to the firm.

“Under the memorandum of understanding, the two parties will jointly establish a community infrastructure development plan to enhance the well-being and quality of life for the communities in the area surrounding PTT Global Chemical America’s planned petrochemical complex in Belmont County, Ohio, after the final investment decision,” the document states.

Company officials said they continue evaluating engineering and design plans on which they committed to spend $100 million during a 2015 announcement. The plant would consume ethane drawn from Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas wells, with the goal of ultimately processing the material so that it can become plastic.

If the massive endeavor comes to fruition, it could generate thousands of construction jobs, as well as hundreds of permanent petrochemical jobs once the plant enters operation. Thousands of “spin-off” jobs could also result from the ethane cracker’s presence, officials have said.

“At this stage, an economic evaluation and further engineering work are underway,” the firm’s website states.

Two contractors continue working on plans to build the potential plant: Irving, Texas-based Fluor Corp. and San Francisco-based Bechtel Group Inc. Both companies’ websites feature examples of their work on similar projects involving the petrochemical industry.

PTT spokesman Dan Williamson said he had no further comment on the memorandum of understanding beyond the company’s official statement on its website.