News Analysis: Shale Energy And Our Future


To many in our area, Thailand’s largest petrochemicals maker PTT Global Chemical remained unknown.  Now that firm says it prefers a Belmont County location to build an ethylene cracker.  Much of the reasoning behind that decision concerns transportation costs.

Wheeling-area entrepreneur Dolph Santorine explains the business case behind a decision of that magnitude.  “You don’t want to end up having to refine that in the Gulf, and then ship it back up north, or to the rest of the country,” he said. So we’ve got a great location for that.”

The economic case for Belmont County depends upon market factors.  PNC Financial Services Economist Kurt Rankin says an oversupply of natural gas will keep prices down.  Even so, a larger picture has to remain in focus.

“It’s so critical that we process the gas that we pull out of the ground,” Santorine says.  He then recounts a cautionary tale from West Virginia’s past as a reminder for today.

“Down in Logan County, all they did was pull coal out of the ground,” Santorine said.  He continued, stressing the difference in mindset. “When we ended up pulling coal out of the ground — historically — we would turn it into coke, we would turn it into steel, we would turn it into glass,” he asserts, perceiving an analogy between the past and today. “This is exactly the same kind of thing that ends up making our part of the country that much better,” Santorine concluded.

According to published reports, PTT Global Chemical plans to increase capital expenditures to $11 billion to add capacity by 2020.

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