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IEEFA U.S.: Ohio petrochemical project faces high risks and shaky outlook

March 23, 2020

March 21, 2020 (IEEFA U.S.) – Plans to build a new petrochemical complex in Belmont County, Ohio face myriad market and other challenges, according to a report released today by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The project is to be undertaken by Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical (“PTTGC”) and Daelim Industrial of South Korea with funding from the state’s economic development arm.  PTTGC has delayed making a final decision on whether to move forward with the project but says it will do so by the end of June 2020.

Ohio River PetrochemThe IEEFA report, Proposed PTTGC Petrochemical Complex in Ohio Faces Significant Risks, questions whether the project will provide the anticipated jobs, tax revenues and other spinoff benefits to the State and the people of southeastern Ohio, as proponents claim. It is part of a larger plan to establish a second U.S. petrochemical hub in the Ohio River Valley, akin to the one situated along the U.S. Gulf Coast. 

“The risks are becoming insurmountable. The price of plastics is sinking and the market is already oversupplied due to industry overbuilding and increased competition,” said Tom Sanzillo, IEEFA’s director of finance and author of the report.

The report identifies principal risks as: 

  • Plastics prices today are 40% below the 2010-2013 period when the project was originally proposed. Weak prices will drive profit margins below investment targets.   
  • Oversupply from a global industry-wide plastics buildout is likely to drive prices and revenues down. Supply/demand imbalances are likely to last through 2026.  
  • PTTGC faces stiff competition from major companies – ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, Chevron ‒ that have existing relationships in the U.S. market. 
  • Slower U.S. (and global) economic growth projections by the International Monetary Fund suggest a slowdown that will impact both volume and prices.
  • PTTGC risks negative credit actions from pursuing the Ohio project at this turbulent time. 
  • Uncertainty over federal government policies add to the risk factors. 

JobsOhio, the state’s privatized economic development arm, has provided $50 million in pre-development grants to PTTGC in the past two years as an incentive for the company to move forward with the full investment. The company estimates that construction will take 3½ years to complete. 

The question for decision makers who are looking to provide jobs, community revitalization and tax revenues for distressed communities is: will this project actually provide those benefits?” Sanzillo concluded.

Tom Sanzillo is IEEFA’s director of finance.
Kathy Hipple is an IEEFA financial analyst.
Suzanne Mattei is an IEEFA energy policy analyst.

Full report: Proposed PTTGC Petrochemical Complex in Ohio Faces Significant Risks

Media contact: Vivienne Heston ([email protected]), tel: +1 (914) 439-8921

About IEEFA 

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment. The Institute’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy. (

Tom Sanzillo

Tom Sanzillo is Director of Financial Analysis for IEEFA. He has produced influential studies on the oil, gas, petrochemical and coal sectors in the U.S. and internationally, including company and credit analyses, facility development, oil and gas reserves, stock and commodity market analysis, and public and private financial structures.

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Kathy Hipple

Former IEEFA Financial Analyst Kathy Hipple is a founding partner of Noosphere Marketing and the finance professor at Bard’s MBA for Sustainability.

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Suzanne Mattei

Suzanne Mattei is an attorney with over 30 years of experience in public interest law and policy. She has analyzed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s policies related to interstate pipeline approval.

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