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Odebrecht and Braskem study US West Virginia Ethylene Cracker

Wood County on line to host Ascent Complex project

The Brazilian companies Odebrecht and Braskem are currently investigating the opportunity to develop the Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise (Ascent) Petrochemical complex project at Parkersburg in the Wood County of West Virginia, USA.

Joining Shell with its Appalachia Ethane Cracker project, Odebrecht and Braskem are exploring a new business model in USA in locating their ethylene cracker and associated petrochemical complex at the heart of the shale gas production.

Currently most of the petrochemical capacities are concentrated around the Gulf of Mexico coast in Texas and Louisiana states.

Odebrecht-Braskem_ASCENT_Parkersburg_Ethylene_Cracker_West-Virginia_MapAll the major companies, such as ExxonMobil, ChevronPhillips, Dow Chemical, Total, have even planned to increase their capacity in their existing facilities or in adding new ones, still concentrated along the Gulf coast.

In doing so they intend to benefit from their existing infrastructures and optimize their investment concentrated on the new production units.

If this model looks optimized from the operating companies perspective it requires the natural gas to be carried out across all the country through pipelines systems from the different US shale gas basins to the petrochemical complexes concentrated in the south around the Gulf of Mexico.

In the same way this model supposes the companies to increase their export capacities to distribute their petrochemical products for further downstream transformation in the domestic market or overseas.

Therefore the key point of this model relies on the storage and transportation infrastructure capabilities to supply the natural gas as feedstock and export the petrochemical products.

Pipelines expansions and storage facilities projects are on going all over the country, yet nobody knows what shall be the consequences on the total costs of the ethane at the gate of the cracker.

In addition we can observe a growing resistance of the land owners to accept the construction of new pipelines all over.

In that respect we can see for example that most of the additional production of crude oil is currently transported by rails stocks in US.

Braskem and Odebrecht plan three polyethylene units

In this context, Shell in Pennsylvania and the Brazilian team Odebrecht – Braskem in West Virginia explore alternative solutions to develop their petrochemical complex as close as possible from the shale gas production basins.

At the current stage of the feasibility study, the Ascent Petrochemical Complex should include:

Odebrecht-Braskem_Ethylene_Cracker – Ethane cracker

 – Three polyethylene plants

 – Water treatment facilities

 – Gas-fired co-generation power plant

For the Ascent project, Braskem should manage, operate and promote the petrochemical complex while Odebrecht would take care of the design and construction of the project.

In addition Odebrecht should operate the utilities facilities for the water treatment and the power generation as part of its Utilities Division.

No planning as been given yet, but a site purchase option should be signed with Parkerburg Authorities in order to proceed on fast track with the Appalachian Shale Cracker  Enterprise (ASCENT) project when the final investment decision (FID) is made.

For more information and data about oil and gas and petrochemical projects go to Project Smart Explorer

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