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Xander. Dennis Head Shotby Dennis Xander
President, Denex Petroleum Corporation

Value added. It’s a concept that for too long has been ignored by businesses in West Virginia. However, our willingness to enhance the natural resources we produce in the Mountain State before they leave our state will determine if our promising future is simply great or truly fantastic. We clearly have the opportunity to exceed our wildest expectations. But will we make that happen?

Consider, by way of example, the furniture industry in North Carolina. Much of the hardwood it requires comes from West Virginia’s forests. The same is true for the natural resources required for the production of energy. North Carolina is geographically challenged, being quite a distance from the major consumer markets in the northeast. Despite its lack of resources and location, North Carolina has dominated the U.S. furniture manufacturing business for the last century. West Virginia has a better supply of hardwood, abundant, inexpensive energy, a quality workforce, and is located within a one-day drive of 60% of the U.S. population. But instead of manufacturing furniture, West Virginia exports its hardwood, energy and often workers to the Tar Heel State to supply its furniture industry. To add insult to injury, West Virginians purchase the furniture North Carolina manufactures, allowing potential profits to leave our state. This makes little sense.

Kevin DiGregorio
Executive Director
Chemical Alliance Zone   
(304) 437-4295

DiGregorio-Headshot“If someone wanted to make investments in the Marcellus shale region, how would they get involved?”
That was the question posed by a member of a Canadian-based private equity firm at InformEx 2014 — a chemical industry event that includes a tradeshow, conference, and networking receptions.  The gentleman was attending a talk by Tom Gellrich of TopLine Analytics entitled, “Is Your Organization Mobilized for the Shale Gas Decade?”

Fortunately, Matt Ballard of the Charleston Area Alliance and I were in the audience along with Angela Mascia, Moses Zegeer, and Joshua Jarrell of the West Virginia Development Office.  Matt had set the scene earlier when he asked a question that made everyone aware that West Virginia is not only in the thick of the Marcellus area but also in the heart of the Marcellus wet gas region.  
That area, located in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia, contains not only vast quantities of methane — the main constituent of natural gas that is used for home heating and electricity generation — but also large amounts of “wet gas,” including ethane.

Importantly, ethane is a key raw material for chemical manufacturing and the starting point for all the doodads that society needs (clothing, cars, and houses) and wants (golf clubs, Keurig coffeemakers, and iPads).  Ethane is converted to ethylene in a “cracker.”  Ethylene is then made into a host of chemicals and plastics which are formulated into all those doodads.  

The audience at InformEx knew all of that, although Gellrich explained it nicely.  What they maybe didn’t know, and Gellrich didn’t note until Matt Ballard brought it up, was that West Virginia is in the midst of the shale revolution and the resulting revitalization of chemical and polymer manufacturing.

By: Karen Facemyer
Polymer Alliance Zone
1 Polymer Way 
Davisville, WV 26142
(304) 428-1622

kfaceWest Virginia’s plastics and chemical industries are becoming a major beneficiary of the shale gas boom taking place in West Virginia and the region.  This topic will be underscored at the upcoming Marcellus to Manufacturing Conference (M2M Conference), taking place in Charleston on March 26-27 at the Civic Center.  

Derivatives of natural gas – ethane and propane – are used to make plastics and comprise a major piece of the industry’s cost puzzle.  As feedstock prices decline due to abundant gas supplies, our plastics and chemical industries become more competitive.  

One need look no further than the announcement of a potential ethane cracking and chemical processing facility to recognize the benefits our gas fields – as well as our proximity to market and skilled workforce – offer West Virginia.  In fact, I view this as a transformative event that will shape our state for decades to come.  

Michael Taylor, Senior Director for International Affairs and Trade at the Society of the Plastics Industry, will discuss the issues shaping the global plastics market and highlight the role low cost gas is playing in the industries resurgence when he presents at the upcoming M2M Conference.

By Fred D. ClarkClark-Fred-Photo

For the third year in a row, the Ethane Development Conference 2014 sponsored by the West Virginia Manufacturers Association (“WVMA”), will provide a unique forum to highlight the incredible growth and economic benefits provided by the Marcellus Shale for the great State of West Virginia.

This year the WVMA has chosen the conference theme “Building Blocks for Downstream Manufacturing” and once again a diverse group of business leaders will come together for a common goal – creating new infrastructure, facilities and job opportunities in our region.  With the group’s diverse professional expertise, combined with legal experience and political savvy, great things are in store for West Virginia and future generations.  

In June of 2011, an initial group of 28 individuals first met to form the WVMA Marcellus to Manufacturing (M2MTM) Committee (“WVMA M2MTM Committee”).  The WVMA in 2012, decided to organize a diverse group of businesses, chemical industry leaders, and individuals interested in the development of the Marcellus and Utica Shale and to hold its First Ethane Development Conference that spring.  As Karen Price, former President of the WVMA stated at the time, “The goal was to combine a diverse group of individuals who would bring fresh ideas and be the best spokespeople for their specific industry to assist in this Committee.”  

Last year Steve Hedrick, President and CEO of Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center, Inc. (MATRIC), best summarized the vision and goal for the WVMA M2MTM Committee: “Marcellus to Manufacturing is about taking full advantage locally of the opportunities and value presented by the shale-gas ethane in the area.  The next step, once a cracker is built in the area, is to attract other manufacturers to produce value-added intermediate chemicals from the ethylene and then still others to use these value-added materials in further manufacturing of consumer products.”