Thai energy giant investing in Ohio plant

TF-4Thailand’s state energy conglomerate PTT announced last week that it will invest $100 million in the design of a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant in Southeastern Ohio that will create jobs for Americans and help boost industrial output in the United States.

Supattanapong Punmeechaow, Chief Executive Officer of PTT Global Chemical, a subsidiary of PTT, made the announcement during a press conference at the Ohio statehouse. Ohio Governor John Kasich and local officials from Belmont County joined him, as did top executives from the state’s economic development organization JobsOhio.

Should PTT Global Chemical choose to proceed with the project, it would create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs while helping to supply the region with cheap and abundant energy. Even as it invests a substantial amount in designs for the plant, the company is in the midst of conducting a feasibility study on the project and will make a final decision whether to go forward in 2016 or 2017.

The Thai conglomerate is partnering with Marubeni in the project and is also searching for the third major investor. Supattanapong said he is impressed “with the Ohio business climate and with the prioritization of the shale energy industry.” The company hopes to give the project a green light by next year, he said.

The cracker would convert locally sourced ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shales into ethylene, a key building block for plastics. It would take more than three years to build and should be operational by 2020.

“Building an ethane gas cracker in Eastern Ohio has the ability to be a real game changer for our economy as we make our state a hub for the energy industry,” Governor Kasich said. “The company’s decision to start the engineering phase of this potential project is an enormous step toward making this project a reality.”

PTT Global Chemical searched for nearly two years to identify a site for the facility in the Appalachian Basin. The U.S. plastics industry is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade, according to a recent study released by the American Chemistry Council, as a result of the spread between the price of oil and natural gas.

The company said the Ohio cracker could have cost advantages, especially in a region where demand is high for petrochemical products. It is planning for the facility to have a capacity of producing one million tons of ethylene each year, and the plant would cost over $6 billion to construct.


Thailand Focus September 8, 2015
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