Gov. Joe Manchin has announced plans for the construction of the nation’s first modern coal-to-liquids plant in the state’s Northern Panhandle. Joining the governor were Sen. Jay Rockefeller, with support from Sen. Robert C. Byrd and West Virginia’s Congressional delegation, and officials from CONSOL Energy, Synthesis Energy Systems (SES) and the Regional Economic Development Partnership (RED).CONSOL, the nation’s largest producer of bituminous coal, and SES, a global industrial gasification company, intend to develop through a joint venture, their first U. S. coal gasification and liquefaction plant in Benwood. The joint venture, Northern Appalachia Fuel LLC (NAF), will invest $800 million in the plant.
The plant is expected to be a “mine mouth” facility with feedstock supplied directly from CONSOL’s nearby Shoemaker complex. The feedstock will be a blend of run-of-mine coal and coal otherwise not recovered in the normal preparation process. Coal will be converted to synthetic gas using SES proprietary technology. The syngas would be used to produce about 720,000 metric tons per year of methanol that can be used as a feedstock for the chemical industry. Officials expect the project will be capable of converting methanol to about 100 million gallons per year of 87 octane gasoline. NAF is negotiating with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering to license their proprietary methanol-to-gasoline technology. As envisioned, the project will include a river terminal facility, where products will be stored in tanks for off-loading into barges for ultimate delivery.
It is estimated the plant will create 300 to 500 construction jobs and, when the plant begins production, it will have about 60 full-time permanent employees.
(from the WV Chamber of Commerce)