What would be the Appalachian Basin’s second multi-billion dollar ethane cracker has finally secured all the major regulatory approvals needed to move forward after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) completed its environmental review and issued the project’s final permits as 2018 came to an end.

OEPA issued a crucial air permit for PTT Global Chemical pcl’s (PTTGC) proposed cracker in Southeast Ohio late last month just before it issued a modified water permit, bringing the project closer to reality.

“The Completion of Ohio EPA’s environmental review represents a significant step toward a final investment decision for this project,” company spokesman Dan Williamson said. PTTGC is expected to make a decision soon about moving forward with the project.

The plant would use six ethane cracking furnaces and manufacture ethylene, high-density polyethylene and linear low-density polyethylene, which are used in plastics and chemical manufacturing. OEPA said carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and greenhouse gas pollutants are expected to be emitted within acceptable levels. 

Shortly after PTTGC announced a partnership with Daelim Industrial Co. last year to build the plant, the company said that it would nearly double capacity to 1.5 million metric tons/year of ethylene, or at least 500,000 metric tons/year more than it first announced. That puts the facility in line to produce the same amount of ethylene as Royal Dutch Shell plc’s ethane cracker, which is under construction in nearby Western Pennsylvania. Shell’s facility is designed to have the capability to consume about 100,000 b/d of ethane.

PTTGC’s plant would be located in Belmont County on Old Route 7 and Hwy 2 in the village of Shadyside along the Ohio River. The company has purchased all of the nearly 500 acres it needs to build the plant.

Ohio EPA completed its environmental review last week when it issued a modified wastewater discharge permit. The modifications would decrease the level of pollutants discharged to the Ohio River and change the locations where storm water would be discharged, among other things. 

The agency noted that both the air permit, which was issued on Dec. 21, and the modified water permit can be appealed within 30 days.