Billing it as the largest private sector investment ever in the state, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and senior officials at Delaware-based Badlands NGL LLC on Monday unveiled a proposed $4 billion polyethylene manufacturing project.

Badlands CEO William Gilliam said his proposed value-added petrochemical manufacturing facility will draw on North Dakota’s abundant natural gas liquids (NGL) supplies, a byproduct of robust oil production in the Williston Basin. Both he and Dalrymple emphasized that the plant, which will take three years to develop, can “significantly” reduce the amounts of associated natural gas that is currently flared in the state.

“This project is fully aligned with our goals to reduce flaring, add value to our energy resources right here in North Dakota, and create diverse job opportunities across the state,” Dalrymple said. Earlier this year, analysts touted North Dakota’s potential for a budding petro-chemical industry in the state (see Shale Daily, May 27).

To pull off the massive project, privately-held Badlands is working with two strategic partners, Madrid, Spain-based Tecnicas Reunidas (TR) and Houston-based Vinmar Projects, a large global petrochemicals and polymers contractor.

The proposed facility would convert ethane to polyethylene, which is used to make a wide variety of consumer and industrial products. It will be designed to produce 1.5 million metric tons of polyethylene, or 3.3 billion pounds annually. The plant would employ more than 500 workers.

Gilliam said Badlands planned to “maximize the values of Bakken ethane for producers, their midstream partners and all gas processors.” He called the facility “the solution” to add value to the state’s ethane supply and make it a commercially marketable product.

“North Dakota elected officials and agencies have provided Badlands with by far the most business-friendly and pro-development environment in the United States,” said Gilliam, noting that Badlands has been able to attract various local business and community leaders as individual investors.

The prospects for continued robust supplies of inexpensive ethane have been touted along with the shale boom during the last four or five years, prompting moves for more exports of the NGL product as developed earlier this year with an India-based company, Reliable Industries (see Shale Daily, Aug. 21; July 23, 2013). U.S. ethane production from other areas is expected to expand.

Badlands said it plans to market the majority of the polyethylene products to U.S. markets, which are closer to North Dakota than the Gulf Coast, where most of the nation’s petrochemical industries are located. “In this instance, North Dakota’s location is a benefit because products can be delivered to world markets through Seattle or Vancouver and Atlantic ports much more efficiently and economically than comparable Gulf Coast facilities,” a company spokesperson said.

TR is one of the largest petrochemicals and polymers contractors in the world. TR will be completing a preliminary engineering analysis for Badlands before the end of the year. Vinmar will provide long-term product off-take services in support of the project, and it has signed a mutually binding, 15-year product off-take memorandum of understanding with Badlands for all the product that would be produced in North Dakota.