PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The state of West Virginia and a Latin America company hope to climb a mountain together that will end in the opening of an ethane cracker plant in Wood County.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the company Odebrecht announced the company’s plans Thursday to explore the development of a petrochemical complex in the Ohio River community of Washington. The project is called Ascent, Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise.

“They have chosen Wood County as the perspective location for the potential development of an ethane cracker and 3 polyethylene plants and that’s great,” Tomblin told the crowd gathered at WVU Parkersburg.

Odebrecht said it plans to exercise an option to purchase property next to the DuPont plant in Washington. The property is currently occupied by the SABIC plant. That company told its 109 workers the plant will close in 18 months.

Odebrecht is a well-known company that has petrochemical investments around the world. Director of Business Development David Peebles said his company has decided tapping into the natural gas industry in West Virginia “makes sense” but it’s important to “manage expectations” in the continuing planning phase. He said the company is doing what can be compared to a diagnostic test on the proposal.

“We will be spending a good bit of money, expenditures in engineering, expenditures with lawyers and permitting,” Peebles said. “And assuming we go forward there will many jobs available.”

But Peebles was unwilling to say, right now, how many potential jobs the complex could bring.

“It’s not that we are trying to be evasive but we do not want to exaggerate or overestimate and have people’s expectations raised because this is a deliberate process,” Peebles said.

Gov. Tomblin agreed there’s still a lot to do. He said Odebrecht must still contract for necessary supplies of ethane, finalize plans for pipelines and other infrastructure. The governor added the financing of the project and the necessary permits all still have to be secured.

Peebles said he met with labor leaders in Parkersburg Thursday and stressed the importance of having a qualified workforce. He also said the biggest problem the company has experienced in the United States is getting workers who are drug free.

“You will not get hired if you do not pass a drug test,” Peebles said.

The cautious optimism of Thursday’s news conference was clear when Peebles told a reporter his company wants to finish the project as soon as possible but it won’t be rushed.

“We are not going to jump into a pool without knowing how deep the water is. You are going to find that we are conservative,” he said. “We have decided that this makes sense. We want to double check. We want to confirm and hopefully the word Ascent is going up and we are climbing a mountain together.”


bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • Larry

    The real news story will be the day this plant is open and fully functional, I am not holding my breath.

    • Ragweed

      I understand the CheezWhiz plant is ready to go online as soon as the cracker plant is up and running.

  • union proud

    If the plant is built by non union workers Parkersburg will look like little Mexico. That's what right to work will accomplish.

    • RANDY

      I wasn't aware that a job done right and under budget resembled little Mexico.

    • union proud

      I didn't know a single person when I applied for my apprenticeship. I worked beside trained journeyman during my apprenticeship and went to classes at night for 5 years. I have went to several safety schools, signed up for and attended additional classes since becoming a journeyman. During my apprenticeship I learned the safe and proper way to do my job through the tutelage of my fellow journeyman and hands on training I received at my union hall. The folks that gripe about union labor probably have no idea what kind of training we have. I can say that my fellow union brothers and sisters are well qualified to do the construction of the project and when its done we'll move on to the next job. The Dominion facility built up around the wheeling area had non union and unqualified welders welding the gas piping up there and had nearly 1000 bad welds that union pipefitters went in and fixed. This project will be huge for the area and create several hundred production and spinoff jobs but leave the big construction to us.

      • tw eagle

        you happen to be among (my estimation)the 20% of the qualified workers in the local labor unions . . .I also worked as skilled union member , since retired . . .
        there were too many brother 'workers' who were given admittance because of family or politics , and it wouldn't have been so bad if they had followed through and learned a semblance of their craft . . .

        unions were needed a century ago . . .and now they are just as much a problem in our culture as horrid and uncaring businessmen were a century ago . . .I see the working environment as a pendulum swinging back and forth . . .
        unions will be needed again in the future , but right now they are more an abcess than a help to the working man . . .

      • al

        Thank you, union proud. Very good points and very well said. I don't think many people understand the extended training that union employees have.
        You folks who just want to bash the unions, you had better thank your lucky stars for the working conditions that the unions provided for ALL the workers in this country. Do you really believe that anyone would be making a good wage if it were not for the unions who fought for better wages and working conditions? Do you really believe that these large companies provide these things out of the goodness of their hearts. They would be paying you $1.00 per hour if they could. You should thank union members every day when you walk into a good paying non union job.

        • zero tolerance

          Oh those evil evil big corporations! We have so much to be thankful to the unions for! We'd all be wallowing in our own filth if it wasn't for them.

      • Meltzen

        I guess you believed the union goons that said you are not qualified unless you take these classes while we take your union dues.

      • zero tolerance

        I'm not sure if I should laugh or throw up.

    • Low Rider

      Here we go again, union this…union that. How about hiring the most qualified low bidder whether they are union or not. I get tired of union employees thinking they are the only people capable of doing quality work.

      • Mike

        Amen, unions are nice in theory, but WV needs jobs...period end of story. So, lets get this up and running and stop with all the Union this and Union staff crap.

    • Anthony

      You're part of a dying breed and business can sense it. So happy to have jobs coming back to this state and people earning their job, not getting in because Papaw and Daddy were Union men.

    • Earl

      Can't a business even get established before the unions run them out of the state/country ??

      Just you need a union membership to collect unemployment? With people like you it's either/or and nothing in-between.

  • Mister X

    Great News! Let's try and keep the economic development going!

  • al

    Great news for the Parkersburg area!

  • ConservativeRealist

    Can they call it a "cracker plant"?...I am surprised that Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson aren't here protesting the racial slur on the I'm not...just being sarcastic...

    • Harry Callahan

      no one laughed.

  • Art in Mineral Wells

    " The source added the cracker is “not quite a done deal” because some conditions and hurdles still must be met."

    Anyone remember when Parkersburg was going to get the frozen food plant? The owners had one condition after another and when they wern't going to get them they pulled the project.

    Sorry to sound skeptical but until they get a building permit, pouring cement, putting up steel it's all a lot of words.

    I hope it happens, lord knows this area along the Ohio needs good jobs.

    • jeco

      The food plant's plug was pulled because of the C-8 issue. They felt that in this cut throat world that their competition would use the water issue against them although in reality the water for their plant would come from a different source.

    • Larry

      I'm with you, I'll be shocked if this gets built.

  • jeff wisdom

    WHEELING - Up to 400,000 barrels of Marcellus and Utica shale ethane, propane and butane will head south each day by 2016 because of pipeline agreements between MarkWest Energy and Kinder Morgan Inc.

    As West Virginia officials maintain hope of attracting an ethane cracker plant - especially since Royal Dutch Shell still has not purchased the property from Horsehead Corp. needed to build Shell's planned ethane refinery near Monaca, Pa. - MarkWest and Kinder Morgan are not waiting around for someone to construct a cracker. Instead, they are moving to ship ethane drawn from West Virginia and Ohio to crackers elsewhere.

    "This project will provide consumers on the Gulf Coast with access to a new source of natural gas liquids from the Utica and the Marcellus shale resource plays," said Don Lindley, president of NGLs for Kinder Morgan, partner of MarkWest.

  • Hillbilly

    Lets hope they hire WV workers, not all from out of state... or country.

    • scott

      news flash here, you don't hire guys off the street to build plants that process high pressure natural gas. not opinion, its fact.

    • Gilbert Gnarley

      Once again West Virginia will solve problem of unemployed Texans and Oklahomans, I'll wager.

    • wvtotx

      Out of state workers boost the economy not steal from it. They buy houses, become citizens, pay taxes and much more. Maybe rather than disparage out of state workers WV workers should as others have mentioned get training and ready to pass drug tests.

    • jojo

      I'm sure they would hire WV workers, first, they must pass a drug test which many WV people would not be able to do. The attitude for many unemployed people is just to sit there and be given money and food stamps. Just a shame but for these reasons out of state workers come in to WV.

    • ConservativeRealist

      What does it truly hurt to bring in worker's from out of State? A skilled workforce is a commodity - not a birthright. Have you not heard of the Interstate Commerce Clause? People have a right to work in any state and we don't have a right to bar others from coming here to work. Instead, we should be examining why our workers can't compete with those from other states - a fact that may contribute to why not many businesses want to invest in our resource abundant state.

      • Harry Callahan

        Yep, sounds like a conservative.

      • Ragweed

        CR - Your "What does it truly hurt to bring in worker's from out of State?" comment is about as boneheaded a statement as I have heard in some time. And, after reading your post again, that goes for all your comments.

        All Hillbilly is saying is let's try to provide jobs for people in this state first. We need them for sure. After all, he did say "Not all from out of state... " Please read a post before you comment on it.

        Your uneducated comments give conservatism and realism a bad name.

  • Ron

    In the mid 50's it was felt the aluminum rolling mills at Ravenswood and across the river from New Martinsville would result in a surge of satellite industries being established in the valley. This never materialized to any degree since the interstate highways allowed the aluminum to be trucked over night to the various fabricating plants located mostly in the southern states.

    • RANDY

      Damned Eisenhower!

  • jeff wisdom

    Odebrecht controls Braskem, the largest petrochemical company in Latin America, the fifth largest in the world, with exports to 60 countries in all continents of the world. By revenue Braskem is the fourth largest petrochemical company in the Americas and the seventeenth in the world.

    Where is the American investment money, why does the money come from outside our borders?

    On January 22, 2010, Braskem announced the full incorporation of Quattor, the second largest petrochemical company in Brazil, becoming the second largest in the Americas and the eighth largest in the world. On April 1, 2010, the company bought the petrochemical operations of the American Sunoco, adding more than 1.5 million tons of resins in the production capacity of Braskem. The acquisition of Sunoco's polypropylene business for US$ 350 million initiated the Company's operations in the U.S. market. In October 2011, Braskem acquired the polypropylene assets of Dow Chemical: two plants in the United States and two plants in Germany.
    Braskem America is the leading producer of polypropylene in the United States, with five production plants located in Texas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and a Technology and Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Braskem America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Braskem S.A.
    Braskem Europe is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany with two plants in Schkopau and Wesseling. Braskem Europe is a wholly owned subsidiary of Braskem S.A.

    What are we (USA) investing in?

    • Rick S.

      I think we are investing in health insurance, welfare, food stamps, unemployment, and other social programs. Just read the newspaper and watch the news and see which stories get the most attention. And what gets the most attention is what gets priority status.

      History suggests that as countries progress, they build with industrial development, and then transition away from industry into more social pursuits (look at Europe a couple of centuries ago, and now at America and Japan). Now countries like China, India, and Brazil are taking the industrial lead. Basically, America as a country has lost its competitive and pioneering edges. But we are catching up to Europe in the number of social programs we have.

    • Daniel

      We (Americans) are investing our tax dollars in oversea ventures like Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Yes, I am being sarcastic! But the truth remains the same! We have given all of our money away to those aforementioned that hate us and want to destroy us. We are basically paying for friends in that region! What have our political leaders done? Offer them more money every year! Of course it makes no sense, but that is how the "D.C. Beltway Boys" conduct business. If it's not in their best interest or padding their political aspirations...see ya! I applaud Tomblin for working towards making this a reality, but what ramifications will it have on our environment? Has anyone asked that question yet? How many more foreign investments (foreign and domestic) will it take to completely destroy what we now call the Mountain State? I guess as long as they aren't removing mountain tops, it has to be better. Right?

    • Art in Ohio

      Good read....answer...EPA

  • 2XLPatriot

    Just what the Obama administration wants.....More "crackers" in West Virginia.

    • Daniel

      Go easy with the "crackers" comments. The last thing WV needs is Al & Jesse in town! LMAO!!! I'm curious what online courses they paid for to attain the title "Reverend." They are a slap in the face to everyone who believes in a higher power!!! IDIOTS!!!

      • RANDY

        I hope Al and Jesse do come here. Someone could dig up A.James and we could start an annual shameless self promotion festival. Might not be huge, but I'm sure it would be somewhat helpful for the economy.

  • polarbear

    If we get the chemical companys to come to WV no one will care about coal any longer. Coal is a drop in the bucket compaired to the monies that can be made from the chemical industry

    • Guardian

      A small correction to your comment . . . "if we get the chemical companies to come BACK to WV . . . "

      At one time in the war years and the 1950s, the Kanawha Valley was known as the "chemical center of the world".

      • Harpers Ferry

        Yeah, that will draw people to move to the state, and draw tourists as well. "Come see the chemical center of the world!" Good move WV!

      • RANDY

        That was right before "Chemical Ali" emigrated to Bagdad.

  • BAC

    We surely need some good news. Obama's EPA is killing our coal jobs, probably forever. And competition from neighboring states is going to put a major hurt on the casinos in Wheeling, Charles Town and Cross Lanes.

    • Embarrassed WVian

      When are you complainers going to attempt to educate yourselves? WV coal jobs have been declining for decades, mainly because of the great abundance of natural gas or other cheaper, cleaner, and safer-to-obtain energy sources.

      Instead of being told what to think by Fox News, try doing some research of your own.

      • charlie

        exactly, good cômment

        • charlie

          this was in reply to embarrased wvian

      • WV Redneck

        Actually, you need to turn off the CBS and MSNBC. BAC is correct. While coal mines have been in decline it was usually caused by them being played out. Now, the EPA regs put forth by Obama on coal fired everything is forcing the switch over to Natural Gas on any who didn't already do so to take advantage of the low price of gas.

        In short, he HAS killed an industry and put hundreds of thousands out of work when you include the supportive industry's and consumer industry's.

        • RANDY

          In Radio Gaga(no connection to Lady), Freddie Mercury sang the line "You've yet to have your finest hour." And so I believe it is with West Virginia coal. But the interim might be rough.

  • David Drennon

    A correction to your story - the cracker plant does not separate ethylene from natural gas. Ethane is separated from natural gas at other facilities. Ethane is then the feedstock for the cracker plant which then converts "cracks" the ethane into ethylene which then becomes the feedstock for other downstream plants.

    • Guardian

      Correct. Nice catch.

  • wvtotx

    It will be resented and protested by the Unions in WV. I hope that a cracker does end up in WV, but I pray that the people in unions don't protest it but rather get training and knowledge and apply for jobs there.

    • FungoJoe

      Maybe this is the impetus that is needed for the WV Legislature to finally pass a Right-to-Work law.

    • Daniel

      When the UMWA kept demanding more and more, they outsourced their own jobs! Their reps were living "high on the hog," the price of coal steadily climbed to accommodate the miners salaries and benefits (during which time their jobs became more mechanized) and was no longer as viable a source of energy as it had once become. Couple that with the likes of Don Blankenship and other coal barrons from out-of-state and WV became like the Saudia Arabia of oil. They didn't diversify and they are now playing catch up with the rest of America. Very sad...but true!

    • Barry Bledsoe

      Amen to that!

      • Matt

        Second! Hopefully the Unions and the EPA will stay out of this for the future of WV.

        • Art in Ohio

          I think the unions will work with the new company. EPA will try to kill it. We are at war with ourselves and jobs are lost.