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Brazil’s Odebrecht mulls new ethane cracker, PE complex in West Virginia

Brazil-based construction company Odebrecht plans to build an ethane cracker and three polyethylene (PE) plants as part of a new project in West Virginia, the state's governor said.

The complex, named the Ascent — Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise, would include the ethane cracker, three polyethylene plants, and associated infrastructure for water treatment and energy co-generation.

A purchase option for the anticipated project site in Parkersburg, West Virginia, has already been secured, according to state officials.

"Although we realize much work remains to be done, this announcement of a potential project is tremendous news for our state and our region," said West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who called it a "game changer" for his state.

The governor did not disclose a timeline or capacity details.

The feasibility of the project, according to the governor's office, will depend on several variables -- including the contracting of long-term ethane supply, financing, regulatory approvals, and appropriate governmental support.

Braskem would be responsible for petrochemical-related activities as well as the commercialization of the polyethylene after the investment is completed.

“As the United States’ leader in polypropylene production and with a significant footprint already in the region, we are excited about today’s announcement,” said Fernando Musa, CEO of Braskem America. “Should Ascent materialize, we look forward to serving our clients in the polyethylene market.”

The state of West Virginia is close in proximity to both the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, giving it easy access to natural gas-based feedstocks.

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