As Gov. Tom Corbett continues his campaign to secure Shell Oil Co.'s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, another company has announced preliminary plans to build another petrochemical facility near Charleston, W.Va.
Aither Chemicals LLC of South Charleston, W.Va. is taking the first steps toward determining market interest for the chemicals and plastics that would be produced by a cracker facility in the Kanawha Valley region of the state. Aither's facility will process natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale rock formation.
The firm is working with Bayer MaterialScience LLC to determine third party interest in the chemicals that would be produced at the plant. The memorandum of understanding doesn't guarantee construction in the Kanawha Valley, but is the first step toward securing a location there.
The "open season" on scouting market interest runs from today to July 20. If all goes as planned, construction could begin in early 2015.
Aither had been scouting locations in the tri-state area, and has said it wants a location with access to ethane and that is accessible by boat, rail and road. The firm's proposed plant is cheaper than other cracker facilities, with an expected investment of $750 million. Downtown-based business advisory nonprofit Renewable Manufacturing Gateway is helping secure money from investors.
Aither has said the plant will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent direct jobs.
Erich Schwartzel: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1455.