An Ohio Plastics Plan
With the increasing pace of Utica gas delivery to the plants that separate dry natural gas from ethane, LPGs, and natural gas liquids(C5 and up), Ohio is becoming a third world gas economy – our raw materials are being sent to the Gulf Coast, or to Canada, to be converted into plastics which our Ohio firms purchase to make their injection-molded widgets, plastic films, piping, etc.
Shell has taken no action on its Monaca, PA, ethane cracker, and no-one else has proposed Ohio based propane and butane processing – only on the Gulf Coast. A lack of ethane storage capacity may have prevented Shell’s world-scale ethylene cracker at Monaca PA – strange when Ohio, W Virginia and Pennsylvania all have extensive gas storage fields, and now we have many ethane pipelines to handle those pesky 45-day cracker shut-downs.
There is one proposal for a small scale unit at Ashtabula – the site was chosen adjacent to an oxygen plant, since oxygen is required.
The raw materials, and the established processes used to turn them into chemical precursors, are:
• Ethane, via thermal cracking or dehydrogenation, into ethylene, then VCM, PE, HDPE
• Propane, via dehydrogenation into propylene, …..
• Butane, via dehydrogenation into butylenes, SBR polymers,
• Pentanes and above are classified as Natural Gas Liquids, NGLs, either for chemicals or as gasoline blendstock
What incentives should be offered to ensure that some of Ohio’s low-cost hydrocarbons are transformed into high value plastics in Ohio instead of being shipped 1500 miles?
First, Ohio should make Utica severance taxes available to fund feasibility studies, site selections, and project financing packages for the above types of processes.
Second, the regional firms who can support such projects should come together to discuss the best approaches – major gas compressor suppliers, process equipment and piping suppliers, EPC contractors, plus the established Ohio plastics and chemicals firms who will use the products.
Third, an Ohio Petrochemical Project Support Package should be assembled using existing tools such as OAQDA etc – look at how Louisiana and Texas do it.
EON will sponsor an Ohio Petro – Plastics Event to develop industry direction and detailed policies. Watch this space!