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Potential for ethane cracker builds excitement

A potential ethane cracker was discussed at an oil and gas meeting in Belmont County on Thursday.

The oil and gas industry was a big topic of conversation Thursday night, as the Ohio Valley Oil and Gas Association held its membership meeting at Belmont College with officials from PTT Global Chemical in attendance.

"Belmont County, Monroe County, Harrison County are really the areas that our producers are very active in right now because the rock is so economical," said Mike Chadsey, OVOGA director of public relations.

There's a lot of excitement over whether or not PTT Global Chemical will build an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County. The petrochemical plant has been proposed for a 420-acre site in Dilles Bottom.

"The site is really perfect for what we want to do. We've got Route 7, you've got the rail lines, both sides of the river, 2 on the W.V. side, 70 and the Ohio River making it easy to build," said Paul Wojciechowski, project director for PTTGC America.

Officials say the cracker plant would bring many jobs into the area and boost the economy. But what exactly happens inside of a cracker plant?

"It takes ethane from the ground, converts it into a chemical, turns it into a polymer, spits it out into plastic pellets," Wojciechowski explained.

Officials say there's no need to worry about pollution.

"We're working hand in hand with director Greg Butler and his team with the Ohio EPA to make sure we do exactly what's required, completely safe and completely environmentally friendly," Wojciechowski said.

And officials say other oil and gas workers throughout the area would see benefits.

"If it's built here, that would be tremendous," said Chadsey. "What we'll do is keep producers very active in drilling to provide that gas for that plant."

PTT Global Chemical is in an evaluation phase to determine if the ethane cracker will be built in Dilles Bottom. A formal announcement is expected early next year.

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