DILLES BOTTOM — Although at least four years in the future, Belmont County officials have begun preparations for the planned $5.7 billion PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker that would fill nearly a 500-acre area from between the Ohio River and Ohio 7.
In April of 2015, Governor John R. Kasich announced that PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC), Thailand’s largest integrated petrochemical and refining company, and its project partner, Marubeni Corporation, a Japan-based company, selected the site in Dilles Bottom, for the possible construction of a world-scale petrochemical complex, also known in the industry as an ethane cracker.
At the beginning of September, 2015, officials with  PTT confirmed they would spend $100 million to conduct  detailed engineering and design plans.
The proposed plant would crack ethane pumped from Marcellus and Utica shale wells into ethylene, which can be used to make plastics, textiles and pharmaceuticals.
Commissioner Matt Coffland said the county had previously been in the running for the Royal Dutch Shell ethane cracker which Shell officials ultimately agreed to take to Beaver County, Pa. He said county officials met with Shell in 2010. They were approached by PTT in September of 2013 to look at the site. Coffland said officials also showed company representatives housing, shopping, hospitals and schools.
At the December 9 Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce meeting, Commissioner Coffland and Belmont County Port Authority Director Larry Merry were both confident that the project will move forward.
Merry said that if built, thousands of local construction jobs will be created. He said company officials were already meeting with the local labor groups.
Once built, those initial construction jobs would be  followed by more high tech permanent jobs at the plant. Merry said company officials have also met with the deans of local colleges to help them develop programs now to help meet the jobs needs of the plant four years from now.
“So current high school seniors will be able to prepare themselves for those jobs,” Merry said.
Commissioners have touted the “game-changing” affects the cracker plant will have on the area if built.
 A final decision on the whether to build the facility may not be made by PTT officials until the end of 2016, however, firms such as Switzerland’s INEOS and Paris’ Technip SA have signed on to provide technology to the Asian company if it proceeds with the plant.
“As we garner national attention for our unprecedented economic growth, it is important to keep our best foot forward and continue to show that we have always been, and will remain, a great place to live, work and raise a family. We are excited to welcome this new project and the jobs and economic impact it will create,” Commissioner Ginny Favede said.
 “Belmont was selected as the number one potential site for this project based on our area’s skilled workforce and qualified trades people. The good men and women of Eastern Ohio are ready and willing to assist. Since day one, we have made Belmont County’s economic competitiveness one of our highest priorities and that effort and commitment are paying off.”