Monday, October 13, 2014

$4 Billion Plastics Plant Announced For North Dakota -- October 13, 2014


July 13, 2016: update on plastics (ethane to ethylene/polyethylene) plant for Pittsburgh

June 16, 2015: personal note from reader provides update on plastics factory; site still not determined; still on track but could be delayed one year longer than planned. 

October 25, 2014: much more background on the $4 billion plastics factory at this post.

October 15, 2014: ethane cracker talk in Ohio, also. is reporting from Akron Beacon Journal:
Ohio’s Utica shale is generating enough liquid ethane to support several processing plants that can carry a price tag of several billion dollars. 
At least four of the so-called cracker plants that turn ethane into ethylene, a key ingredient in making plastic, have been proposed in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.
Natural gas wells in the Utica and Marcellus shale formations in those three states are producing enough ethane to support three large cracker plants, said [Cleveland State University economist Iryna] Lendel, whose comments were based on a preliminary economic assessment of the Utica Shale.
About 60 percent of the liquids derived from Utica wells are ethane, she said.
Cracker plants cost from $1 billion to $7 billion, depending on size. It probably will take five to seven years before the first plant opens in the Appalachian Basin, Lendel said.
October 14, 2014: Bismarck. There is talk -- from message boards, e-mail -- that more than one plant might be possible. 
Original Post

The Dickinson Press and KXNET are reporting a $4 billion petrochemical plastics plant coming to North Dakota:

From The Dickinson Press:
A company announced plans Monday to build a $4 billion manufacturing plant in North Dakota that will convert a byproduct of natural gas processing into an ingredient for making plastic products, representing what Gov. Jack Dalrymple called the largest private investment in state history.
Badlands NGL’s LLC and two partners are developing the facility, which will convert ethane into polyethylene, which is used to make a wide variety of plastics for consumers and industry.
The plant will produce 3.3 billion pounds of polyethylene annually and employ 500 people, company CEO Bill Gilliam said. He said the partners hope to be cranking out the finished product – little white plastic beads – by the end of 2017.
Gilliam said more than two sites are being considered in North Dakota but he wouldn’t say where, except that they aren’t in active oil drilling locations in western North Dakota. The plant is expected to cost $4 billion to $4.2 billion and will require a “substantial footprint” of more than 1,000 acres, he said.
One of the project partners, Madrid, Spain-based Tecnicas Reunidas, a major contractor for petrochemical plants, is doing a preliminary engineering analysis that is scheduled for completion this year and will include a final site selection for the facility.
With regard to ethane and ethane pipelines, a reader recently commented:
The Vantage pipeline to Alberta from the Hess plant is probably the longest ethane pipeline in North America. OneOK y-grade pipe line takes Bakken NGLs to Conway, Kansas, where the propane is fractionated and sent to north to Iowa and points north. The rest of the NGLs are sent to Mt Belvieu, TX, where the rest of the fractionations occur. 
The Vantage pipeline:
The Vantage Pipeline is a high vapour pressure (HVP) pipeline carrying ethane from a source near Tioga, North Dakota, extending northwest, through Saskatchewan, Canada, and terminating near Empress, Alberta, Canada. The pipeline links a growing supply of ethane from North Dakota to markets in Alberta
The Vantage Pipeline is 445 miles steel pipeline, with an outside diameter of 10 inches.
This Is The Problem

The president: Ebola is difficult to transmit:
"I know that the American people are concerned about the possibility of an Ebola outbreak, and Ebola is a very serious disease. And the ability of people who are infected who could carry that across borders is something that we have to take extremely seriously," Obama said. "At the same time, it is important for Americans to know the facts, and that is that because of the measures that we’ve put in place, as well as our world-class health system and the nature of the Ebola virus itself — which is difficult to transmit — the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is extremely low."
From the chief of the CDC: 
CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said the agency is still investigating the case of the Dallas nurse, but stressed that "meticulous adherence to protocols" is critical in handling Ebola. "One slight slip can result in someone becoming infected." 
[This was taken to be a "blame the victim" comment; nurses outraged; Skinner has now apologized.]
The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The Los Angeles Times is reporting: Orange County, California, will refinance new toll road -- now drivers can expect to pay tolls through 2050:
An Orange County toll road that has struggled to build ridership will be refinanced for a second time -- a move that will add years to the period motorists will have to pay tolls to ride it.
On a 12-2 vote, the board of the San Joaquin Hills corridor approved restructuring at least half of the $2.2 billion in bonds that were sold to build the highway, which courses through the coastal hills from Newport Beach to San Juan Capistrano.
The plan by the Transportation Corridor Agencies in Irvine is expected to improve the road's bottom line, but motorists might have to pay tolls until 2050 to retire the debt.
The Other Gift That Keeps On Giving

I talked about this from the beginning. To keep premiums "low" -- the deductibles and co-pays are very, very high. And more health care facilities (clinics and hospitals) want their money up front. The AP is reporting:
They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury.
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs.
The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in.
Such plans already represented a growing share of employer-sponsored coverage.
Now, they're also the mainstay of the new health insurance exchanges created by Obama's law.
Edward Frank of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, said he bought a plan with a $6,000 deductible last year through That's in the high range, since deductibles for popular silver plans on the insurance exchanges average about $3,100 — still a lot.
"Unless you get desperately ill and in the hospital for weeks, it's going to cost you more to have this plan and pay the premiums than to pay the bill just outright," said Frank, who ended up paying $4,000 of his own money for treatment of shoulder pain.
"The deductibles are so high, you don't get much of anything out of it," said Frank, who is in 50s and looking for a new job.
The bigger problem: folks don't really understand the concept of "insurance." Frank bought catastrophic health insurance; he did not buy a policy to pay for his day-to-day expenses. Folks understand auto insurance (apparently) but can't make the leap to health insurance.

It's Counterintuitive

Prediction: analysis of the results of the mid-term elections will show that President Obama was correct. If the Dems are to hold the Senate, Mr Obama needs to be on the ballot. The fact that Mr Obama is not on the ballot is the Dems biggest challenge this year.


  1. A person can only speculate, but both proposed fertilizer plants planned for Grand Forks and Jamestown are going to be using natural gas from western ND. I'm wondering if this plastics plant will take advantage of one of these 2 sites that will be fed from western ND natural gas?

    1. 500 employees is a huge number of employees for North Dakota.

      MDU, natural gas, fertilizer: suggests Jamestown.

      If there is industry in North Dakota, where is it (I'm thinking industry like DMI, Case IH)?

      For me, Fargo at the top of the list; Grand Forks a distant second. Jamestown a distant second. Toss-up between Jamestown and Grand Forks for 2nd spot, and possibly throw in Bismarck as the second choice.

  2. For cooling water, railroad, and lodging considerations, suspect the two sites are Bismarck near the Mo RIver and Grand Forks near the proposed fertilizer plant. ONEOK would have to build an methane fractionation plant near Williston and a pipeline to the cracking plant.
    Minneapolis, Wisconsin and Chicago have a substantial demand for those pellets, $o further east could make sense.

  3. My guess is either Jamestown or Mandan. Minot struggles with lack of water and available work force. Grand Forks and Fargo struggle with lack of water issues. Jamestown has a new industrial park that already has a newly fired up power plant. This same industrial park will be home to a 2billion dollar fertilizer plant that will use natural gas from western ND. Mandan is accessible to water and natural gas as well and could easily set up shop near the Mandan refinery where the environmentalists are pushing for the closure of the power plant adjacent to the river and refinery. Not sure these environmentalists would welcome a plastics plant to Mandan though! :)

    1. It looks like I was completely wrong on even suggesting Fargo (and making it #1 at that). In retrospect, I'm glad I left it off the list. Wouldn't it be amazing if North Dakota turned this proposal down based on environmental reasons. Stranger things have happened. I suppose one could ask, if one has a 0.5% unemployment rate, does one need more industry to come to the state?