Business Leaders Promote Ethane Storage for Plastics Plants in Ohio Valley

by Duane Nichols on April 5, 2018

Mountaineer NGL’s proposed underground storage site with four saltwater caverns for two million tons of high-value NGLs.

Two crackers, one valley could yield big dividends, business leaders say

From an Article by Linda Harris, State Journal, April 2, 2018

WHEELING — If one ethane cracker within an 80-mile radius is good, Mountaineer NGL President David Hooker says having two would make the Upper Ohio Valley a business magnet.

But that all depends on PTT Global, the Thai firm that’s been mulling the viability of building a second cracker at Dilles Bottom, Ohio. Over the past two years PTT has spent more than $100 million to acquire acquire property and lay the groundwork for the project, all of it without making a firm decision to proceed with construction. The recent announcement that PTT will partner with a South Korean firm, Daelim Industrial, at Dilles Bottom is seen as an indication PTT is getting ready to pull the trigger on the multi-billion project.

PTT now says a decision could be forthcoming by year’s end.

“PTT is the lynchpin to creating a true regional storage hub,” said Hooker, whose company, Mountaineer NGL, is currently in the permitting process for underground storage for some of the region’s high value natural gas liquids. “If it goes in, you can expect new industry along the Ohio River that would act as finishing plants for PTT Global and Shell’s plant in Monaca.”

Not that the uncertainty is stopping Mountaineer, part of West Street Energy Partners. “We continue to chase the permits, and I think we’re getting closer. I feel like we are, anyway,” Hooker said.

Mountaineer’s plan initially is to carve out four salt caverns, each capable of holding up to 500,000 gallons of NGLs. Phase II entails two additional caverns storing up to 1.25 million barrels. Mountaineer owns the mineral rights to the Salina salt formations beneath its 200-acre site.

He said the price tag for Phase I and II is roughly $150 million, but could go as high as $500 million “if the market is there to support it.”

“Obviously, we’ve had a lot of inquiries,” Hooker said. “We have a pretty good handle on who and how the market is, we stay close to them. We have a million barrels circled at this point — once we get some definition at the plant, so we have an idea what the rates will be and timing on when we’ll be able to provide the service, I feel like we can put about a million barrels under contract, certainly by the end of the year.”

Hooker’s planning for an in-service date in the first quarter 2020. As much as he’d like it to be sooner, Hooker said that’s not the way it works. Even if they get a cavern in service in 2019, he said it takes a while to make sure everything is functioning properly.

Mountaineer NGL is far from being the only storage option in the works. Appalachia Development Group is in the running for a $1.9 billion federal loan guarantee for its proposed underground storage hub. Phase I construction could cost $3 billion or more. No site has been announced, but last year, officials studying geological formations identified several site options in the tri-state area.

Hooker said it’s an opportunity “to keep production local, instead of putting it in a pipeline to a port and sent overseas.”

“I’m not sure where they’re planning to build their hub, bu, in my opinion, infrastructure doesn’t develop the hub, the market does,” Hooker said. “If (PTT’s) plant is built, and we get our permits, I think you’ll see a fair amount of new infrastructure develop not only around us, but throughout (the region). And if the market exists, we could be a lot bigger than 3 million barrels. There’s expansion potential across the river.”

Joe Eddy, president and CEO of Wellsburg-based Eagle Manufacturing, doesn’t mind admitting sooner is better than later.

“With total investment in the two crackers of $10-12 billion, and up to $10 billion more on the storage hub pipeline and storage system, significant immediate impact is assured,” he said. “Once completed, the first two ethane crackers and the storage and trading hub, should generate a regional economy exceeding $20 billion annually. I would consider that a major impact.”

Eddy said processing and storing the high value NGLs in the Ohio Valley will bring significant savings, pointing out natural gas begets natural gas liquids (ethane, propane, butane, pentane) through fractionation; ethane begets ethylene by the cracking process and polyethylene via a reaction process.

Polyethylene is a building block for most plastic products. Eddy said Eagle’s feedstock is currently shipped by railcar from Texas, “with freight cost alone in the 6-7 cent per pound range.”

“I estimate that of our current resin costing $.80 per pound, that $.26 per pound equivalent cost is from shipping ethane by pipeline from here to Texas, cracking it into ethylene, converting the ethylene to polyethylene, and shipping it back to our facility in West Virginia by rail,” he said. “Therefore, there will be a major competitive advantage, or at least the ability to be competitive with the Gulf Coast processors, if we have local sourced poly resin supply.”

With more than a thousand end users within a day’s drive of the Northern Panhandle, Hooker doesn’t figure Eagle will be the only company to see the advantages to be had. “I think there’s a real chance here, for the entire region,” Hooker adds.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Olivia Rosane April 6, 2018 at 10:51 am

Humans Eat More Than 100 Plastic Fibers With Each Meal

From Olivia Rosane,, April 5, 2018

The proliferation of microplastics in the ocean has led to concerns that they might work their way up the food chain to us.

But when researchers at Heriot-Watt University set out to investigate that concern, they found that plastics in our own homes pose a much greater threat to humans.

The results of the study, published March 29 in Environmental Pollution, found that humans likely consume about 114 plastic microfibers each meal simply from household dust that settles on their plates.

Researchers gathered mussels from around the coast of Scotland in order to assess how many microplastics humans might ingest by eating the mussels.

As a control, they also set Petri dishes filled with sticky dust traps next to dinner plates at three separate homes.

Fourteen pieces of plastic settled on the dishes after 20 minutes, about the length of a meal. Given the difference in size, scientists calculated 114 such pieces would settle on a plate during the same time.

That adds up to 13,731 to 68,415 pieces per year.

In comparison, researchers calculated that eating mussels would only lead humans to ingest 100 microplastics yearly. Each mussel they studied contained about two plastic particles.

“These results may be surprising to some people who may expect the plastic fibres in seafood to be higher than those in household dust,” senior study author Dr. Ted Henry said in a Heriot-Watt University press release.

The study’s authors did not think that the plastics came from the home-cooked meals used in the study or the kitchens where they were prepared.

“We do not know where these fibres come from, but it is likely to be inside the home and the wider environment,” Henry said in the release.

Friends of the Earth member Julian Kirby provided the university with insight into how plastic particles end up in dust.

“Plastic microfibers found in the dust in our homes and the air we breathe can come from car tyres, carpets and soft furnishings, as well as clothes such as fleece jackets. These are regularly shedding tiny bits of plastic into the environment as they are worn away,” he said in the Heriot-Watt release.

According to a study published in Lancet Planetary Health in October, 2017, the proliferation of microplastics in the environment is a concern in part because the impact on human health is still not well-known.

However, even if marine microplastics are not the main source for human consumption, they are still a major problem for marine life. The study also marked the first time microplastics were found in the protected mussel species Modiolus modiolus.



Climate Nexus April 7, 2018 at 9:30 pm

#ShellKnew 30 Years Ago: Documents Reveal Predictions of Extreme Weather, Climate Lawsuits

From Climate Nexus, April 5, 2018

Royal Dutch Shell has known about the links between fossil fuel use and climate change for decades, according to newly-released internal company documents.

The documents, unveiled by Dutch newspaper De Correspondent on Thursday, show that the oil giant’s researchers flagged that climate change could have major implications for the fossil fuel industry as far back as the 1980s—and predicted that environmental groups could sue following damages from extreme weather.

“With the very long time scales involved, it would be tempting for society to wait until then before doing anything,” one 1988 report reads. “The potential implications for the world are, however, so large that the policy options need to be considered much earlier. And the energy industry needs to consider how it should play its part.”

On Wednesday, Friends of the Earth announced that it would file a lawsuit against Shell if the company does not bring its investment plan in line with Paris agreement goals within eight weeks.

As reported by Climate Liability News:

One of the documents, written in 1998, models an eerily accurate scenario of violent and damaging storms hitting the East Coast of the U.S. in 2010.

“Following the storms, a coalition of environmental NGOs brings a class-action suit against the U.S. government and fossil-fuel companies on the grounds of neglecting what scientists (including their own) have been saying for years: that something must be done,” the report projects.

Bill McKibben told De Correspondent that the documents show that Shell understood the risks of climate change in the 1980s.

“Had they merely been candid with the world, we could have gotten to work then, and while global warming would not yet be ‘solved,’ we’d be well on the way,” said McKibben.

“Instead they appear to have chosen the path of hedging, minimizing, and diverting—and given the stakes, this was both tragic and immoral. Shell knew. And now we do too.”


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: