West Virginia-based Aither Chemicals is planning to construct an ethane cracker by 2016, a $750 million project that will create a byproduct used for plastics and thousands of jobs, but the plant’s location still has not yet been decided.
“The technology is proven — and we have the necessary resources in this region,” said Ieva Abolina, director of development for Pittsburgh-based Renewable Manufacturing Gateway (RMG), told the Wheeling Intelligencer
RMG, which is partnering with Aither to build the facility, plans to locate it on a river in the Marcellus and Utica shale producing states of West Virginia, Ohio, or Pennsylvania.
Leaders in all three states are also waiting for a decision from Royal Dutch Shell, which plans a multibillion-dollar cracker facility, which should be announced soon. The Shell project should bring jobs for as many as 10,000 construction workers and hundreds of permanent employees, but the Aither cracker could help bring more industrial growth.
Abolina said the Aither cracker would employ about 2,000 construction workers and 200 permanent chemical employees by the time it opens.
The facility would use a patent-pending catalytic cracking method to transform ethane into ethylene, used in plastic production. The technology operates at a lower cost than steam crackers and uses 80 percent less energy and produces 60 percent less carbon dioxide.
“Aither's technology is a natural fit to our region. It cost-effectively uses the ethane-rich natural gas from our vast Marcellus gas deposit to produce highly sought after byproducts, while creating high-value employment in the region,” said Enzo Zoratto, chief operating officer for RMG.
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