CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A delegation from China numbering more than two dozen is in West Virginia for the next two weeks in connection with the multi-billion dollar investment announced by the state and China Energy last month.
“They are doing the sort of due diligence that companies do before they begin the process of investment of significant dollars into our state,” State Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher said during an appearance Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
The state signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China Energy on Nov. 9 for $83.7 billion in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects over the next few decades.
The Chinese delegation took part in a clean coal discussion in Morgantown late last week and will be traveling the state this week, Thrasher said.
“They’re all over the place looking at different sites, meeting with prospective owners, prospective suppliers, prospective sub-contractors—and it just shows an incredible effort on their part, a good faith effort, to move this thing forward,” Thrasher said.
The projects will focus on power generation, chemical manufacturing and underground storage of natural gas liquids and derivatives but Thrasher said it’s still not time to focus on specifics.
“It’s big. It’s cumbersome. There are way more things that are unanswered than are answered,” Thrasher said. “It’s just like any business deal, you begin the process and you begin working through it.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Thrasher continued. “It’s too big, it’s too many years. Who knows exactly what’s going to happen? The other thing is there’s a realm of confidentiality that is very important.”
Despite the questions, Thrasher said he’s not interested in entertaining any doubts about the investment.
“For so long we (state residents) have been negative. It’s time for us to put all of that behind us. It’s time for us to be positive. It’s time for us to believe good things can happen,” Thrasher said.During a press conference at the state Capitol, Gov. Jim Justice was asked for more specifics about the China Energy investment.
In response, Justice didn’t provide a lot more and declined again to say when the state might release details of the memorandum of understanding. But he did say the interest from China is real and will pay off.
He referenced the delegation from China in his response.
“There’s no way China would spent the money to have 28 people spending two weeks here if they weren’t deadly serious,” Justice said.
He added that some potential development under the deal continues to take shape.
“There’s another arena that centers around coal to liquids and coal to chemicals that they’re really interested in.
They’re trying to perfect the MOU. We’re in the process of trying to facilitate where they need to be.”
The governor said the Chinese investors see value in West Virginia.
“If you’re going to invest a billion dollars in West Virginia, why not go ahead and make it your absolute hub?” Justice said.
“The discussions are deathly serious; they went very well. I think everyone left the meetings very excited.”