Industry Leaders React to Possible Cracker Plant - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Industry Leaders React to Possible Cracker Plant

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Industries from throughout the state and Wood County reacted to the Nov. 14 news of the possible cracker plant for West Virginia.

The news sent ripples of excitement through the Mountain State's manufacturing community even before Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's press conference started.

SABIC, a manufacturing company that has operated in the Wood County town of Washington for 56 years, issued a statement that it has signed an initial purchase agreement for the potential sale of its Wood County property to a third-party entity.

SABIC told its employees Nov. 14 it would consolidate its U.S. ABS, or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, operations. 

"We will close our Washington, West Virginia, facility and transfer some of its ABS production to SABIC's Ottawa, Illinois and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi facilities during the second quarter 2015," the statement reads.

The company said it expects its employees to continue to work at the current site over the next 18 months to assist with the transition.

"The main thing is the opportunity, and the value added to the natural resources we produce here in West Virginia," said Joe Eddy, chairman of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association and president and CEO of Eagle Manufacturing in Wellsburg. "Parkersburg, the Mid-Ohio Valley, is a natural location for a cracker – it already has chemical infrastructure, some of the largest chemical plants in the state are located there.
"It would make a lot of sense, there'd be a ready market for (it)."
While a cracker itself would be a significant investment, Eddy said the downstream potential for the area is enormous.
"The key things are water, rail,  roads and  land, developable land, to be able to build plant and add on," he said. "The key value here, other than keeping our natural resource here, is the added economic development downstream of a cracker– the amount of different chemicals, the potential for additional chemical plants, supplies for existing plants and the expansion of existing plants so they can make additional products ... it's incredible.
Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia, said he's extremely excited, because of "the investment in the state, the jobs that are created and the wealth that are created."
He described the ethylene produced by cracking as "the building block for just about everything we touch."
"It's a very important ingredient to our quality of life," he said. "But, most importantly, it's investing in West Virginia, in our tax base. It helps our state in a variety of ways."
Rebecca Randolph, WVMA's new president, said there's no question the feasibility of building the cracker in West Virginia was thoroughly vetted beforehand.
"I think they've done more on the front end in terms of homework and potential for development," she said. "We feel pretty confident this process will move forward, and quickly. There were very careful in their selection process, they spent a considerable time doing that in advance of the announcement, so I think the wheels will be in motion quickly and the project will move forward."
Randolph figures the announcement "improves our economic landscape for chemical manufacturing in West Virginia, but creating a value-added component to natural resources we have in abundance."
"It gives us a greater ability to maintain the manufacturing jobs we already have and increases our ability to attract new ones," she said. "So I'm very excited about what's happening today."
The company said it expects its employees to continue to work at the site over the next 18 months to assist with this transition.
"The main thing is the opportunity, and the value added to the natural resources we produce here in West Virginia," said Joe Eddy, chairman of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association and president and CEO of Eagle Manufacturing in Wellsburg. "Parkersburg, the Mid-Ohio Valley, is a natural location for a cracker – it already has chemical infrastructure, some of the largest chemical plants in the state are located there.
"It would make a lot of sense, there'd be a ready market for (it)."
While a cracker itself would be a significant investment, Eddy said the downstream potential for the area is enormous.
"The key things are water, rail,  roads and  land, developable land, to be able to build plant and add on," he said. "The key value here, other than keeping our natural resource here, is the added economic development downstream of a cracker– the amount of different chemicals, the potential for additional chemical plants, supplies for existing plants and the expansion of existing plants so they can make additional products ... it's incredible.
Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia, said he's extremely excited, because of "the investment in the state, the jobs that are created and the wealth that are created."
He described the ethylene produced by cracking as "the building block for just about everything we touch."
"It's a very important ingredient to our quality of life," he said. "But, most importantly, it's investing in West Virginia, in our tax base. It helps our state in a variety of ways."
Rebecca Randolph, WVMA's new president, said there's no question the feasibility of building the cracker in West Virginia was thoroughly vetted beforehand.
"I think they've done more on the front end in terms of homework and potential for development," she said. "We feel pretty confident this process will move forward, and quickly. There were very careful in their selection process, they spent a considerable time doing that in advance of the announcement, so I think the wheels will be in motion quickly and the project will move forward."
Randolph figures the announcement "improves our economic landscape for chemical manufacturing in West Virginia, but creating a value-added component to natural resources we have in abundance."

"It gives us a greater ability to maintain the manufacturing jobs we already have and increases our ability to attract new ones," she said. "So I'm very excited about what's happening today."

Karen Facemyer, president of the Polymer Alliance Zone of West Virginia, said the alliance "stands ready to assist in anyway necessary to welcome this new company to our region and state."

The Charleston Area Alliance was also pleased with Thursday afternoon's announcement. Its president and CEO, Matt Ballard, said the Alliance has worked with Braskem for several years as part of an ongoing support of energy and chemical-related economic development sectors.

"We are pleased that plans to construct an ethane cracker in our region are moving forward. With its proximity to chemical companies located in the Kanawha Valley, the downstream benefits for our region will be material," Ballard said in a statement. "This strategic announcement, in tandem with the WV Technology Park facilities, the Chemical Alliance Zone's Incubator, MATRIC's unique capabilities, and the chemical operator training program at Kanawha Valley (now Bridge Valley) Community and Technical College, are part of the ecosystem that will drive the chemical industry of tomorrow."