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China’s ‘20-Year Plan To Develop West Virginia Petrochemical Industry’

Nov. 26, 2017 (EIRNS)—West Virginia Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher says that China Energy Investment Corp.’s $83 billion planned investment into the state is likely to have two new gas-fired electric power plants under construction by next Fall. But in a Nov. 12 interview with the Clarksburg State Journal, Thrasher spoke of long-term intended developments from the investment which are likely to have a greater impact on productivity and economic progress in this economically depressed state.

The result, according to Thrasher, may be as many as 100,000 new jobs—the state’s workforce is currently 775,000. Alaska expects 12,000 new jobs to be created by its new liquid natural gas deal with Sinopec and China Investment Corp. (CIC); although also a large investment ($43 billion), its aim is export rather than industrial development.

Thrasher said that the agreement he signed in Beijing with China Energy President Ling Wen, actually under discussion for nearly two years,

"is a methodical, 20-year plan to develop the gas and petrochemical industry in West Virginia.... It’s a sequential plan, with one step and a second step and so on."

West Virginia University (WVU) entered into a memorandum of understanding with China Energy in 2016, on taking advantage of the state’s Marcellus Shale gas reserves, for which it has not had the infrastructure. WVU Energy Institute Director Brian Anderson told the paper that China Energy’s idea of a regional ethane hub is not just extraction and export, but spin-off industries in the state, centering on petrochemicals production. "This is all downstream," meaning beyond extraction and in industrial processing.

As for follow-through on the memorandum, state Gov. Jim Justice, was quoted today by associated daily Exponent Telegram, said

"Donald [Trump] is not going to let West Virginia get shafted.... Do I know its going to be $83 billion? No. But I know it’s going to be a lot of money that’s invested here."

West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association head Anne Blankenship is quoted by the State Journal Nov. 12 article,

"The investment will support the growth and development of natural gas end uses for which we have been advocating for many years. Natural gas-powered electric generation..., liquid storage and the petrochemical manufacturing industry have all been part of our policy initiatives.... We not only grow our natural gas industry, we grow the manufacturing industry, jobs and state revenue."

Also quoted Nov. 12 is Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who said merely, "It has major impacts for our state. At this point I’d say it’s almost incalculable."

American coverage of this extraordinary agreement gained by President Trump in China continues to be sparse. Other recent items monitored include only an article in OilPrice.com and a column in the Wierton (W.Va.) Daily Times—not household media names.