Federal Lawmakers Look to Build Ethane Field of Dreams

May 19, 2017

Shell Cracker plant will process ethane and is the type of facility legislators would hope to attract with a giant ethane storage hub.
Credit Courtesy: Shell Chemicals

Legislators from Ohio and West Virginia are hoping to capitalize on the natural gas boom by building a new ethane storage hub in the region.

A bipartisan group of federal legislators held a conference call this week to express enthusiasm for an idea to build an ethane storage and distribution system. Legislators hope a stockpile of ethane - which is a derivative of natural gas and feedstock for plastic and chemical industries - would attract and stimulate economic growth in the Ohio Valley region.

“This is a game changer for us,” said Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia. “The old field of dreams? Build it and they shall come?”

Manchin said West Virginia’s chemical and manufacturing industries could be reinvigorated. He also pointed to the Department of Energy as a possible source of investment saying $6 billion in loans is waiting to be used in fossil fuel industries.

West Virginia’s senator Shelley Moore Capito introduced a bill this month that would request a feasibility study of establishing a subterranean ethane storage and distribution hub in the Ohio Valley.

Legislators indicated that planning and exploration for such a site is already underway. Industry experts suggest building out an ethane storage facility and infrastructure to support it would cost $10 billion.