A polyethylene resin production facility is soon coming to the Wheeling area.
Houston-based Appalachian Resins is preparing to announce details regarding the $500,000 million plant sometime by the end of the month, according to company officials.
The plant will take ethane, a portion of the natural gas liquids that are produced with gas in the “wet gas” region of the Marcellus Shale, and “crack” it to make polyethylene resins. These resins are used for grocery and garbage bags as well as used to make cling wrap.
Appalachian Resins’ plant will be different from Shell Oil Company’s proposed $3 billion ethane cracker expected to be built in western Pennsylvania.
Appalachian Resins’ plant will involve a ethane cracker, but at a much smaller scale and only as an intermediary, integrated step in its process.
Shell’s plant will use 60,000 to 80,000 barrels per day of ethane, according to information the company put out last year, compared to the expected 15,000 barrels of ethane per day Appalachian Resins’ plant would require.
Appalachian Resins will have an advantage in the industry since most polyethylene is made in big facilities in the refinery area of the Gulf Coast and shipped across the country to users. This plant will be closer to user.
Company officials factor simplicity and a good regional market outlook as reasons for building the facility in West Virginia.
Having a smaller production facility also provides for operational flexibility which, according to company officials, is an important factor for a regional polyethylene production facility.
Construction on the plant is expected to begin by the end of this year and polyethylene production to begin in 2015.