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Odebrecht Plans Ethane Cracker-Polyethylene Plants In Parkersburg, West Virginia

An international petrochemical company, Odebrecht plans to build an ethane cracker and three polyurethane plants in the Mid-Ohio Valley region in Wood County’s Parkersburg, West Virginia. The complex, Ascent — Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise would include an ethane Cracker, three polyethylene plants, and associated infrastructure for water treatment and energy co-generation. A purchase option on the anticipated project site in Parkersburg, West Virginia, has already been secured.

“Although we realize much work remains to be done, this announcement of a potential project is tremendous news for our state and our region. I appreciate the hard work of my team from the Development Office and the Ascent team members who have come together to explore this investment. I look forward to working closely with them to help bring the project to fruition,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. He called it “a game changer for West Virginia.”

According to the Governor’s Office, Ascent’s feasibility will depend on several important variables, including the contracting of long-term ethane supply, as well as financing, regulatory approvals, and appropriate governmental support.

Odebrecht will lead Ascent’s investment and financing, as well as the operation of water and electric utilities. “Project Ascent fits within Odebrecht’s commitment to be a partner in development in the regions where we operate,” stated Fernando Reis, CEO of Odebrecht Environmental. “Moreover, Ascent fits into the strategy of our Utilities division, which seeks to invest and manage industrial assets.”

Braskem would be responsible for petrochemical-related activities as well as the commercialization of the polyethylene after the investment is completed. “As the United States’ leader in polypropylene production and with a significant footprint already in the region, we are excited about today’s announcement,” stated Fernando Musa, CEO of Braskem America. “Should Ascent materialize we look forward to serving our clients in the polyethylene market.”

According to David Peeples, Vice President of Business Development for Odebrecht, the company selected Wood County due, in large part, to the collaborative spirit of the area.

"Obviously, the shale play has generated tremendous optimism, and recent production reports from horizontal shale wells are proving the potential of the resource beneath our feet," said Matt Warnock, attorney and co-chair of Bricker & Eckler's Shale Task Force. "Now that we have great wells, we need an outlet for all that production. The midstream and downstream phases of development, including the proposed cracker, are critical to the long-term development and viability of the shale play."

"The ripple effect will be significant," says Christiane Schmenk, Bricker attorney and former director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. "Construction of the plant will bring immediate jobs to the region and stimulate long-term economic growth in communities on both sides of the Ohio River."

Across the Ohio River from Wood County, City of Marietta, Mayor Joe Matthews said: "I wish the plant could be in Ohio, but this is going to be great for the entire area. We anticipate an increase in jobs, housing and construction work as this project moves forward." This cracker facility complements the region's longstanding manufacturing heritage."

According to Flite Freimann, an attorney located in Bricker's Marietta office, the cracker plant in Wood County, West Virginia could signal a manufacturing renaissance and open the door to the petrochemical industry. "This development broadens the impact of the shale boom and represents a step toward improving the longevity of the shale play. The announcement validates our critical position in America's energy future and is so very personally exciting for the entire region as we look forward to an economic boom benefiting our families – and certainly my four young children – and neighbors for generations to come."

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