CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officials with Odebrecht, the Brazilian company that’s developing a petrochemical complex in Wood County, will visit West Virginia’s capital city as early as this week to update state lawmakers and other officials on the project’s progress.
State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said, much like a similar complex Shell is developing in Pennsylvania, the Washington, W.Va. project will have a wide reach — even beyond the thousands of jobs created during construction and hundreds of permanent positions needed for the complex, near Parkersburg, which could include an ethane cracker, three polyethylene plants and related infrastructure.
“We drew some concentric circles from both the site in Parkersburg and the site in Beaver, Pennsylvania to see what the impact zones could be in West Virginia and, I think, it was 90 percent of the state was in one of those 150 mile zones,” said Burdette.
The company Odebrecht has established in West Virginia, Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise or Ascent, closed on the purchase of the property for the complex, land near DuPont, at the end of December. The purchase price was $10.9 million.
Burdette said it’s an important step. “We’re halfway there, in my opinion, we’re halfway there,” he said, before quickly admitting, “There’s a lot of work to be done.”
For Ascent, the next phase of the project, Burdette said, will focus on permitting. He said it could take between 16 months and up to two years to secure all of the needed federal and state permits for the massive project which was first announced publicly last November.
For West Virginia, Burdette said the immediate focus will be on workforce development issues.
In the long term, he said the Mountain State will have to invest in infrastructure to support the shale gas industry. Such gas infrastructure, he said, is already in place along the Gulf Coast, for example, where companies can tie into an existing pipeline system.
“In this region of the country, largely, that doesn’t exist, so we’re going to have to figure out how we work with the private sector and other suppliers and accomplish that goal, not just for a facility, but for an industry.” Such building, Burdette said, could lead to future developments like the Ascent project.
“We think there could be another announcement down the road. We know for a fact there are other companies still looking at this region to do the same thing, so there could be a third,” said Burdette.