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Cracker plant still a good fit

In the midst of a pandemic and nationwide protests, we received an additional bit of disappointing news last week here in Eastern Ohio.

On Monday, PTT Global Chemical announced a new time line for its proposed ethane cracker plant project. Actually, the company announced a new time line for making a decision about whether it will move even forward with the project and make the plant a reality.

PTTGCA of Thailand and its partner, Daelim Chemical USA of South Korea, will take six to nine months longer than expected to make a final investment decision. Previously it had been hoped — and strongly implied by many sources — that the developers would announce their decision by mid-summer.

Already, the companies have acquired about 500 acres of property at Dilles Bottom along the Ohio River. They have begun site preparation work, clearing trees and brush, demolishing a former coal-fired power plant and leveling the area.

In fact, demolition of structures in that area continued last week, despite the announced delay.

The new coronavirus outbreak has hit countries and companies all over the world hard. Not only has it sickened and killed hundreds of thousands of people, but it has confined us in our homes and taken a huge bite out of economies around the world.

So it really should come as no surprise that firms contemplating an investment of billions of dollars would take more time with their decision during a time of such global uncertainty.

Even while announcing the new timeline, PTTGCA said it remains committed to the petrochemical complex plan. After all, the site that has been selected has a lot to offer.

It is located near major transportation routes including the river, state and interstate highways and rail. And, Belmont County is filled with natural gas wells that produce an abundance of the ethane needed to feed such a plant.

“We continue to be grateful for the support and encouragement we receive from this community and all our local, state and federal partners,” PTTGCA President and CEO Toasaporn Boonyapipat said.

“While the pandemic has prevented us from moving as quickly as we would like within our previous timeline, our best estimate is for a final investment decision by the end of this year or in the first quarter of next year.”

There is every reason for local residents to believe the project eventually will be built and will bring good jobs to the region. It is still a very good fit for our area.

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