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State grants $20 million for cracker project

DILLES BOTTOM — JobsOhio is investing another $20 million toward site work completion to facilitate development of a proposed ethane cracker plant in Belmont County.

Matt Englehart, spokesman for the state’s private, nonprofit development corporation, announced that the grant had been awarded to partners PTT Global Chemical America and Daelim Chemical USA on Friday. He explained that the funds will go directly to Bechtel Corp., which has been working at the potential Dilles Bottom location and has been announced as the general contractor on the project, if it moves forward.

“JobsOhio’s assistance facilitates the efforts of PTTGCA and Daelim Chemical USA to move forward on critical site-related engineering and site preparation work in a comprehensive and timely manner,” Englehart said via email. “With the completion of this ongoing work, Ohio will have an invaluable asset on the Ohio River that will maximize the attractiveness of the Belmont County site for a positive final investment decision.”

Since, 2015, Thailand-based PTTGCA has been considering the multi-billion dollar project. It purchased about 500 acres of land, including a former power plant site, just south of the Moundsville Bridge. In 2018, PTTGCA Partnered with Daelim, of South Korea, to advance the project.

If constructed, the plant would “crack” ethane molecules, or break them apart in natural gas-fueled furnaces. The resulting product, ethylene, is a raw material for manufacturing plastics, adhesives, textiles and household chemicals.

“This grant provides the PTTDLM project with the necessary resources to continue engineering work and site preparation that must be done in the coming months,” company spokesman Dan Williamson said in a statement. “PTTGC America and Daelim Chemical USA are sincerely grateful to JobsOhio, which has been a steadfast and supportive partner without whom this project would not be possible. The PTTDLM project team continues to work toward a final investment decision, which we anticipate will come in the first half of this year.”

In July, JobsOhio awarded a $30 million revitalization grant to PTTDLM, also for site preparation. The companies committed $65 million for the site work through JobsOhio, including the $30 million grant.

And in December 2016, JobsOhio announced a $14 million grant to FirstEnergy Corp. to defray the company’s costs of demolishing and removing the former R.E. Burger Plant – an amount that was in addition to the more than $3 million that JobsOhio granted to the owners of the adjacent Ohio-West Virginia Excavating Co. property to remediate that portion of the potential petrochemical plant land. PTTDLM has purchased all of that property, along with multiple tracts from smaller, private owners.

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