On May 4, the inaugural meeting of the Marcellus to Manufacturing Task Force, created by acting West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, took place in Charleston. The purpose of the Task Force is economic development: to enable West Virginia to retain the benefit of the ethane-rich Marcellus shale natural gas being extracted here, by successfully recruiting the construction of one or more ethane cracking facilities in the State. West Virginia?s key competitors for new ethane crackers were discussed, as were the advantages of locating such a facility in West Virginia, which include close proximity to the ethane, pre-existing infra-structure and human resources.
Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette, a Task Force member, presented information on the direct economic benefits which would inure to West Virginia should a cracker be built. His department is also working on a projection of indirect benefits to the State. He stressed that not only are the direct economic benefits significant, the indirect benefits would be immense. Importantly, the indirect economic benefits under review include the impacts on West Virginia?s chemical manufacturing industry.
The Task Force constituted four subcommittees: Production/Processing/Storage (members are Michael John, President and CEO of Northeast Natural Energy, Steve Perdue, Government Affairs Manager for EQT, Scott Rotruck, Vice President for Chesapeake Energy, Jack Lafield, President and CEO of Caiman Energy and Kurt Dettinger, General Counsel for the Governor and chairman of the Task Force); Transportation (Jim Crews of NiSource/President of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, Bob Orndorff, Government Affairs Manager for Dominion, Don Garvin of the West Virginia Environmental Council, Patrick Donovan, Director of Maritime and Intermodal Transportation for Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute, Steve White, Director of Affiliated Construction Trades and Dettinger); Chemical Manufacturing (Greg Babe, President and CEO of Bayer, Kevin DiGregorio, Executive Director of West Virginia Chemical Alliance Zone and Burdette); and Economic Development (Henry Harmon, President and CEO of Triana Energy, Crews, Garvin, DiGregorio, White, Burdette and Donovan).
No date was set for the next meeting of the Task Force. Meetings of the subcommittees are to take place next, and after they have met and formulated recommendations and/or plans, the entire Task Force will reconvene, and the reports of the subcommittees will be presented.