The Appalachian Basin has been producing prodigious volumes of natural gas and natural gas liquids for roughly 15 years and 10 years, respectively.
Increasingly, the basin, due to the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays, is being eyed as the logical location for gas and liquids users to establish a presence.
The Second Annual Appalachian Basin Real Estate Conference will bring together industry experts to inform attendees on what the Basin, and particularly the Ohio River Corridor, offers to potential and established companies looking to grow.
The one-day conference is slated for March 25, at Oglebay Resort, in Wheeling, West Virginia. The program’s sponsor/presenter is Shale Directories and its founder, Joe Barone.
Numerous government and industry experts recognize the U.S. no longer can solely depend on the Gulf Coast region to host the multi-billion-dollar domestic petrochemicals industry.
The constant threat of hurricanes shutting down Gulf production, coastal refineries and petrochemical complexes, and a surge in plastic demand (a positive reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic) makes the Basin a logical place to establish/expand operations.
And big-deal activity already is underway or has been announced. Royal Dutch Shell was a first mover in constructing a $6 billion ethane cracker project in Western Pennsylvania, to take advantage of the region’s abundant, inexpensive NGL, and the relatively closeness of users of the complex’s plastics pellets product.
Thailand-based PTT is expected to finally announce later this year it will build a second multi-billion-dollar cracker, in southeast Ohio along the Ohio River.
West Virginia Methanol announced plans to build a $350 million methanol plant in Pleasants County, West Virginia.
And KeyState Natural Gas Synthesis has announced plans to build a $400 million plant to convert natural gas into hydrogen, ammonia and urea for transportation, medical and industrial uses. The complex, to be located in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, also will capture and sequester carbon dioxide onsite.
One expert who will be the featured speaker at the Basin conference is Adam Bruns, managing editor since 2002 at Site Selection magazine.
Bruns, who has tracked development literally worldwide, keeps a close eye on the Ohio River Corridor, annually the point person for Site Selection’s Ohio River Corridor special report.
“We look at development in every county along the Ohio, with projects having to meet at least one of three criteria: at least a $1 million project cost, creating at least 20 jobs, or building at least 20,000 square feet of space,” Bruns said. In 2020, the Louisville, Kentucky region took the top spot.
“The Appalachian Basin is becoming a major petrochemical hub,” Bruns said. “We’ve documented significant development and expect more in coming years.”
Bruns said the Ohio River Corridor has a number of positives going for it, including affordable/available energy, with large utility companies proficient as economic development partners.
“The region also has legacy infrastructure in place,” Bruns added. “Probably the number one question employers ask about deals with talent cultivation and the availability of workforce development.”
Bruns sees workforce training as crucial to securing development anywhere, certainly along the Ohio River.
“Certainly, community colleges and companies are partnering to make sure training is available, while families are discovering how important certificates can be so important (for securing a job) – certainly, logistics certificates are a big deal now.”
Along those lines, an Appalachian Basin Real Estate Conference expert panel, moderated by Pat Ford, Business Development Director for The Frontier Group of Companies, will discuss the challenge of securing a ready workforce for new companies coming to the region.
Bruns said it has been his experience the governmental bodies along the corridor are prepared “to do anything they can to get a dormant site going again.”
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President and Founder, Shale Directories