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Thai Company Purchases Land for Ohio Ethane Cracker

Thailand's state-owned petrochemical and refining company, PTT Global Chemical pcl (PTTGC), has taken another step toward building its proposed multi-billion dollar ethane cracker in Belmont County, OH, exercising its purchase option for a 167-acre site there.

FirstEnergy Corp. spokeswoman Jennifer Young said her company sold the property last month to PTTGC for $13.8 million. FirstEnergy worked most of last year to demolish the Burger Power Plant and cleanup the site along the Ohio River. The plant was retired in 2011, and PTTGC signed the purchase option last summer.

PTTGC spokesman Dan Williamson said the company has not yet exercised its purchase option for another 300-acre property owned by the Ohio-West Virginia Excavating Co. to the south of the Burger site. If the company goes forward with the project, it would need about 500 acres of land.

PTTGC said in 2015 that it would invest $100 million for the cracker's preliminary design work. Affiliate PTTGC America LLC has worked with two engineering firms and in February the company said it would delay a final investment decision (FID) on the facility until later this year. That decision was initially expected in late 2016 or early 2017.

Now that FirstEnergy has completed its demolition and cleanup, Williamson said no other site prep work would take place until after an FID had been made. The facility, which would be located in Shadyside, would consume about 65,000 b/d of ethane to make ethylene -- a key building block for plastics.

FirstEnergy's site is considered critical to the project and PTTGC decided to move forward with the purchase as a result. If the company decides to build the cracker, it would be the second such decision in the region. An affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell plc decided to go ahead with a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker in Western Pennsylvania, where that company is nearly finished with the two-year process of preparing a 400-acre site. Shell's facility would be larger, designed with the ability to consume 100,000 b/d of ethane for conversion into ethylene and polyethylene when it comes online sometime in the early 2020s.

Williamson said PTTGC's project is still in the engineering and design process. He reiterated that an FID is expected around the end of this year. 

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