Appalachia is the Place to be for Chemical Investments

Since the development of the Marcellus shale, we have known that West Virginia and the Appalachian Region offer significant economic advantages for petrochemical investments. Simply put, we have the most abundant and cheapest feedstock in the world, and petrochemical decisions (and profits) are largely based on feedstock availability and costs.

Importantly, Shale Crescent USA recently released a new study by IHS Markit that quantifies and corroborates that view. A new $3 billion ethane-to-ethylene-to-polyethylene facility in the Appalachian Region would generate $3.6 billion more in pre-tax profits over 20 years compared to a similar facility in the Gulf Coast.

You can read my Op-Ed about the study here … Study Verifies Appalachia’s Petrochemical Advantage

But to add a little more oomph to the findings, realize that a $10 billion facility — more in line with the two chemical plants currently under development — would generate $12 billion more in pre-tax profits over 20 years in Appalachia based on the IHS Markit study. Also remember these facilities will likely operate well past 20 years, offering even more return on that investment.

West Virginia, as we’ve known for some time now, is the place to be for new petrochemical investments.

Energy Speaks — Creating Jobs in West Virginia and Appalachia

I recently represented the natural gas, chemical, and manufacturing industries during an Energy Speaks event for the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce in Parkersburg. The talk — “Creating Jobs and Economic Growth in West Virginia and Appalachia” — focused on needed infrastructure projects, from pipelines to crackers to underground storage facilities.

When asked for a take-home message, I said, “This is a marathon … not a sprint. And in fact, it’s a steeplechase marathon.”

You can see a video and coverage of the event here … Local Leaders Learn about Oil and Gas Industry

And a subsequent interview here … The Future of the Oil & Gas Industry in the Mid-Ohio Valley 

CAZ Growing WV’s Economy from the Top Down and Bottom Up

Everyone who knows CAZ well knows we work with the WV Development Office and many other groups across the state to create large numbers of jobs and bring substantial investments to the Mountain State. Think tens and hundreds of millions in investments and dozens of jobs (Kureha, US Methanol, various expansions for existing manufacturers) to billions in investments and hundreds of jobs (cracker facilities, other shale-related investments, Appalachian Storage and Trading Hub).

CAZ is not only growing the state’s economy using the more traditional, top-down approach, but is using an entrepreneurial, bottom-up approach as well. In fact, CAZ is working with TechConnectWV, INNOVA Commercialization Group, West Virginia Regional Technology Park, the Charleston Area Alliance, and many others to assist entrepreneurs and start-ups in traditional and green chemistry, energy, biotechnology and more, through its ChemAssist program.

Over the last several years, CAZ has:

  • Assisted over 53 companies (from 1-person start-ups to 100+ employees)
  • Helped facilitate almost $3 million in follow-on funding
  • Helped retain 30+ jobs and created at least two jobs

And we are creating opportunities for new jobs, much needed innovation, and future growth and diversification for the Mountain State.

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Methanol, Storage Hub and More!

We Have Methanol!

It’s not exactly like Steve Martin in The Jerk (“The new phone book is here!”), but it is good to strike one off of the list.  US Methanol held a groundbreaking ceremony for its first methanol plant, Liberty One, at Dow Chemical’s Institute site on September 6th.  Widely used in the Kanawha Valley and in WV, methanol has been a priority for CAZ for a number of years, so we are pleased to have that raw material to supply local users.  Production is expected to start by the middle of 2018 and the company is expected to create 50 permanent jobs.  US Methanol’s second plant, Liberty Two, is already being planned for a site in West Virginia.

You can see the complete story here … US Methanol Breaks Ground at Institute … and can read an editorial on the groundbreaking, including our thoughts that we are in a steeplechase marathon instead of a sprint, here … Daily Mail Editorial – Welcome US Methanol.

N3 to Bring 300 Jobs to WVRTP (Strategic CAZ Project)

N3, an international sales and marketing strategy consulting firm based in Atlanta, will soon be hiring some of West Virginia’s best and brightest, bringing 300 jobs to the West Virginia Regional Technology Park (WVRTP).  While N3 is not a chemical, energy, or manufacturing firm — CAZ’s typical wheelhouse — the WVRTP is one of CAZ’s strategic projects, and we were pleased to play a role in assisting N3, WVRTP, and other major players (especially the Charleston Area Alliance) in this endeavor.

You can see more info here … N3 Brings Jobs to Tech Park

Three Potential Sites Identified for Appalachian Storage Hub

A research team led by WVU, and including state officials from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, has identified three geological formations for storing ethane and other high-value natural gas liquids underground.  This is an important step in developing an Appalachian Storage Hub … something we have been touting with partners since 2011 … and ultimately boosting chemical and other manufacturing in the Mountain State and region.  You can read more about the unveiling of the study and the potential of creating thousands of jobs here … Ethane Storage Could Lead to Significant Job Growth

And if you’d like to see the actual study, data, and more … WV Geological and Economic Survey ASH Study

Let me know if you have any questions or other thoughts.

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Flood Relief Efforts Award, Industry History, Jobs and Opportunities

CAZ Receives Award with WVSU for Flood Relief Efforts

CAZ, West Virginia State University (WVSU), and the Kanawha Valley Section of the American Chemical Society recently received a Partners for Progress and Prosperity Regional Award (P3) from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for their flood relief efforts following the historic flood of 2016.   WVSU Chemistry Professor Dr. Micheal Fultz led the effort, partnering with CAZ and its members to provide relief to the affected schools by replacing science equipment.  Donations came in from across the community and country, including from WVSU alumni, Dow Chemical, Preiser Scientific, and Mylan Pharmaceuticals.  We believe this is the first such award ever made in West Virginia, and the partners are now in line for a possible national award from ACS.  You can see more  here.

CAZ Creating Jobs and Opportunities through ChemAssist

CAZ is assisting entrepreneurs and start-ups in chemistry-related industries across WV, including traditional and green chemistry, energy, biotechnology and more, through its ChemAssist program.  Working with partners like MATRIC, TechConnectWV, INNOVA, WVU Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Center for Applied Research and Technology (CART), Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI), the Charleston Area Alliance, and the WV Regional Technology Park, we have:

  • Assisted over 30 companies (from 1-person start-ups to 100+ employees)
  • Helped facilitate almost $3 million in follow-on funding
  • Helped retain at least 18 Jobs

And we are creating opportunities for new jobs, much needed innovation, and future growth and diversification for the Mountain State.

CAZ Presents the History of WV’s Chemical Industry

Did you know that WV’s chemical industry began with salt?  Can you believe that WWI and WWII not only changed history across the globe, but significantly impacted the chemical industry in the Mountain State?  And did you know the city of Nitro was built to support the war effort during WWII?

These tidbits and more were presented by Kevin DiGregorio at a two-day event celebrating the 100-year anniversary of chemical engineering at WVU.  From the development of DuPont, Union Carbide, and Monsanto in the Roaring 20’s to the current potential of shale gas, the history of WV’s chemical industry is varied, fascinating, and full of innovation.

Kevin also chaired the planning committee for the event, and the event was sponsored in part by two CAZ members, Dow Chemical and Braskem.

I hope you will make time to read these bits of good news, and please let me know your thoughts.

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Commerce Secretary, Storage Hub and more …

New Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher Touts Shale Opportunities to CAZ Members

At our recent Members Meeting, new West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher spoke highly of several economic opportunities around the state but put shale gas in a different category, calling the opportunity by far the most important in West Virginia.  He and his colleagues at the WV Development Office are working alongside CAZ and other partners to turn our shale gas resources into new manufacturing investments and jobs.  With enough ethane in the region for five or six crackers and enough shale gas to last well past 50 years, we are in many ways still on the cusp of this generational opportunity.

Appalachian Storage Hub Conference June 15

You’ve likely heard lots of information on a potential Appalachian Storage Hub — underground storage facilities for ethane and possibly other NGLs plus pipelines to move ethane and other feedstocks to chemical plants.  If not, you can read more here … The $10 Billion Petchem Growth Engine for Appalachia.  And you can also attend the first Appalachian Storage Hub Conference on June 15 in Canonsburg PA where Kevin will be moderating a Chemical Industry Panel discussion featuring both Dow Chemical and US Methanol.  You can find info on the Storage Hub and conference in a recent lead story in Marcellus Drilling News … Next Mega Project … Appalachian Storage Hub.

AEP Joins Dow Chemical and WV American Water as CAZ Sponsors

We are grateful to all of our CAZ Members, big and small, but a few deserve special notice for contributing to our mission above and beyond their membership dues.  We offer a big thanks to Appalachian Electric Power for recently joining Dow Chemical and WV American Water as CAZ sponsors.

  • The Dow Chemical Company … Events and Operations Sponsorship
  • West Virginia American Water … ChemCeption (Incubator) Sponsorship
  • American Electric Power … Economic Development Sponsorship

I hope you will let me know your thoughts.

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The State … and OPPORTUNITY … of the Oil & Natural Gas Industry

The State … and OPPORTUNITY … of the Oil & Natural Gas Industry

In partnership with Energy Speaks and the Charleston Area Alliance, I spoke on “The State … and OPPORTUNITY … of the Oil & Natural Gas Industry” at the Kanawha County Lunch & Learn on March 9th at the Charleston Marriott. I covered some of the challenges the natural gas industry is facing today, how that relates to chemical manufacturing opportunities in WV, and the opportunities that still exist despite the challenges.

Hopes Still High for Regional Crackers

Things have been a bit quiet lately, but work continues for not one, not two, but three crackers in the Tri-State region of WV, OH, and PA.  As you may have heard, there is a growing commitment for regional cooperation as well, as officials and leaders in the three states work together to bring investments and jobs to the region.  CAZ Member Steve Hedrick, President and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center (MATRIC), was recently interviewed for an article in The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register .  Not surprisingly, Steve laid it out quite nicely by saying, “There is more than enough ethane for us to do this.” He went on to say that he believes the region could accommodate up to six petrochemical complexes.  We at CAZ agree, and we continue to remind everyone that while time is certainly of the essence, we are in the midst of a “steeplechase marathon” more than a 100-yard sprint or even 10K.

Marcellus and Manufacturing Development Conference March 23-24

Please join the WV Manufacturers Association, host and sponsor, for the upcoming Marcellus and Manufacturing Development Conference to be held March 23-24, 2016, at the Charleston Civic Center.  CAZ will attend and participate along with some of our members and partners, including IVS Hydro, Jackson Kelly, Eagle Manufacturing, AEP, Babst Calland, Brickstreet Insurance, AC&S, and more.  This year’s event focuses on the infrastructure needed to create a regional Appalachian Storage Hub and will include a panel I will moderate entitled, “Erasing Lines — Creating Generational Opportunities through Regional Collaboration.”

The conference is free of charge, but registration is required. Visit to register for the conference and events and to view the program agenda.



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