Pleasants County Methanol Project, A Complete Breakthrough for West Virginia Methanol Inc.
- Journalist: Harold Finch
In continuation to the article dated 14th July 2021...
Issuance of the new air permit is the key milestone towards development of West Virginia Methanol’s Pleasants County project. Following are the key highlights and scope of the project:
1. Ideal Technology Selection
Methanol can be obtained from fossil (either natural gas or coal) and renewable raw materials. Today the most relevant source of Methanol is the Natural Gas. Coal is mainly used for Methanol production in China. The total global Methanol production stood around 80 million tonnes in 2019 of which just a small fraction was produced from the renewable sources. The estimated cost of producing fossil fuel-based Methanol is in the range of USD 100-250 per tonne.
Haldor Topsoe’s, MeOH-To-Go is a small-scale modular Methanol plant for field operations at any corner of the world. These plants utilise Natural Gas to produce Methanol or its derivatives such as Dimethyl Ether (DME), Gasoline, etc. The plant (Topsoe/MPS only offer this single size) on feeding 7.1 MMscfd of gas produces 215 tpd of Methanol. With potential add-ons, it can also produce 150 tpd DME or about 700 bpd of high-octane gasoline.
2. State’s Abundant Natural Gas Availability
West Virginia’s Natural gas output has boomed in the past ten years with the exploration of new shale reserves. The gas production has reached a record in nearly a decade and now accounts for 5-6 percent of the total U.S. gas output.
The state’s Dry Natural gas output as per the EIA report stood at 1,967,622 Million Cubic Feet in 2019, up by about 22.003% from the output recorded in 2018. The Natural gas-rich state has 31 underground natural gas storage fields. Hence the site is an ideal state for setting up the Methanol manufacturing unit.
The new 900 MTPD Natural Gas to Methanol unit will enable the state to leverage its feedstock abundance in the most effective way in addition to meeting its environmental regulatory compliances.
3. The Right Site!
The decision to house the plant in the Pleasants County is the right choice for the regional Methanol customers who have been largely transporting Methanol from the U.S. Gulf Coast or from other countries. Methanol is a key product in the chemical industry. It is mainly used for producing other chemicals such as formaldehyde, olefins, Acetic acid, DME and others.
4. Strong Compliance with Emission Norms
The proposed Pleasants County facility has the potential to emit 91 tonnes of carbon monoxide (CO), 92 tonnes of nitrogen oxides (poisonous, highly reactive gases), 54 combined tonnes of three different kinds of particulate matter, and 11 combined tonnes of the known or probable human carcinogens including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene etc. The facility’s estimated maximum emissions are less than the thresholds set under the state legislative rules complying with the federal Clean Air Act.
5. Creation of Job Opportunities
Towards the end of 2020, West Virginia’s governor Jim Justice expressed his hopes of revival from the pandemic-induced slowdown through continued growth in Natural Gas production which would foster the construction of processing plants, chemical manufacturing facilities and several other downstream sectors. The construction of the Methanol site which will create approx. 30 high-paying jobs (on being operational) will bring the state closer to its vision of creating 100,000 new jobs inclusive of those involved into Natural gas drilling.