By John Raby
Petrochemical giant Odebrecht has chosen a site in West Virginia to explore the possible location of an ethane cracker plant and three polyethlene plants, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Thursday.
The estimated cost and timetable of the potential project weren’t disclosed, although officials said Odebrecht has a purchase option on land for the site in Parkersburg.
Tomblin said preliminary work on the project has been going on for three years.
“Although we realize much work remains to be done, this announcement of a potential project is tremendous news for our state and our region,” said Tomblin, who was joined by Odebrecht officials at the announcement in Parkersburg. “It’s going to be a game changer for the state of West Virginia.”
The complex would be known as Ascent, which stands for Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise. Odebrecht will lead the project’s investment and financing, along with the operation of water and electric utilities. Plastics maker Braskem S.A. of Brazil will handle petrochemical-related activities.
“Project Ascent fits within Odebrecht’s commitment to be a partner in development in the regions where we operate,” said Odebrecht Environmental CEO Fernando Reis. “Moreover, Ascent fits into the strategy of our Utilities division, which seeks to invest and manage industrial assets.”
Tomblin said the project’s timetable “depends on a lot of things, a lot of hurdles that we have to go through. It’s a huge facility, so we’re looking sometime down the road. But it will be worth it when the production starts.”
According to its website, Odebrecht has provided services to the Brazilian oil industry for more than 50 years. It operates in 26 counties, has more than 180,000 employees worldwide and its U.S. operations are based in Coral Gables, Fla.