WV Striving for an Ethane Cracker at Institute or New Martinsville

by Duane Nichols on August 29, 2011

Kurt Dettinger, General Counsel to WV Governor

Don Rigby and Kurt Dettinger are working to bring an ethane cracker to West Virginia; and, the County Commissioners in the Northern Panhandle are doing so as well. Caiman Energy with natural gas processing plants in Marshall County plans to send its ethane to Canada.

During the Marcellus Natural Gas Liquids & Shale Gas Infrastructure Summit in Canonsburg, Pa., Dettinger, general counsel for West Virginia acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and Rigby, executive director of the Wheeling-based Regional Economic Development Partnership, spoke of efforts to attract a $1 billion ethane cracker that would bring hundreds of jobs to the Mountain State.

“It would be up to the individual investor and their needs,” Dettinger said, when asked which site he believed would be more likely to attract a cracker, though declining to name the companies considering the project. “We will just be glad when they choose West Virginia.”  However,  Texas-based El Paso Midstream Group is seeking ethane supplies to send 90,000 barrels of ethane daily to Louisiana via an 1,100-mile pipeline.

During a presentation at the conference, Caiman Vice President Art Cantrell stated, “If built, new ethane crackers are projected at four to five years out,” as a reason to send the ethane north of the border,” to Canada for cracking. Caiman has completed a purchase of 150 acres adjacent to the Ohio River south of Moundsville – the former Olin Chemical site – where Caiman will build a processing plant for its propane, butane and pentane.

State officials and business leaders are getting more optimistic by the day about West Virginia’s chances of landing a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker plant that could create more than 500 full-time jobs. Last week, Bayer CEO Greg Babe told a chemical industry trade publication that his company has received several inquires about the use of its sites in Institute and New Martinsville for a cracker, which would process ethane from Marcellus Shale natural gas in the Appalachian Region. After hearing about Babe’s comments, state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette predicted that a company’s decision to build a cracker plant would come “sooner rather than later” and possibly by the end of the year.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: