JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
GILBERT - A coal-to-liquid plant planned for Mingo County is now looking much more attractive to investors due to the involvement of a multi-national corporation in Germany that has agreed to act as the construction and engineering contractor.
Adams Fork Energy is the coal-to-liquid plant planned for Wharncliffe.
When constructed, the facility that will convert 7,500 tons of regional coal into premium grade ultraclean gasoline, producing 18,000 barrels per day (756,000 gallons).
The project is a post-mine-land-use project of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA).
Adam Victor, CEO of TransGas, shared a presentation he has used to garner the attention of investors in the U.S. and Europe.
“In Germany, gas is $9 a gallon,” Victor said. “It’s coming here. Something needs to be done, now private industry will do what the government should have done.”
ThyssenKrupp, a German multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Essen, Germany, has agreed to act as the construction and engineering contractor with complete oversight of all construction activity.
.The corporation consists of 670 companies worldwide.is a 200 year old company that has built over 100 coal gasification plants.
Victor said having ThyssenKrupp onboard has made investors feel more comfortable with the project.
Leasha Johnson with MCRA said in addition to the company overseeing construction of the facility, the progress itself made by Victor has made the project more viable.
” Investors are now looking at this project more seriously due, in part, to ThyssenKrupp’s superior reputation as a worldwide contractor,” Johnson said. “Also because TransGas has completed the design and development stage of this project, presenting a very viable renewable energy project with commercially proven technologies by world class firms, at a time when our nation’s energy independence couldn’t be more vulnerable.”
The technology for the facility was first used in 1909.
“We are not reinventing the wheel,”West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said. “There will be a fuel of the future, but we don’t have it now. In 2010, eight billion tons of coal were consumed in the world, less than one billion tons in the U.S. The use of coal is progressing.”
Manchin said the public simply does not understand the part coal plays in the nation’s energy picture.
“Right after the Upper Big Branch disaster, a nationally known reporter approached me, I won’t say who it was,” Manchin said. “She said she didn’t understand why we still mine coal, why we just didn’t use electricity. This is the problem, people don’t understand the importance of West Virginia coal.”
Manchin said the Victor came to him as governor with the project, and that he was immediately impressed.
“As governor, I got pitches for projects, most of the people wanted a lot of money, and wanted us to take all the risk,” Manchin said. “Then Adam came, wasn’t asking for anything. He was prepared to go overseas because nowhere in the U.S was receptive. He just wanted a place that wanted to do business with him. I told him, “You’ve got to go to Mingo County.””
The speakers at the presentation all paid tribute to the late Mike Whitt, who was the Executive Director of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority.
Randy Huffman, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, said he met Whitt in 1990, and that Mike had brought several projects forward that Huffman had been skeptical about coming to fruition, but that Whitt’s due diligence made each of them a success, just as the CTL plant was becoming reality.
The MCRA always come to Gov. Manchin with all their ducks in a row,” Huffman said. “With Leasha (Johnson, now Administrative Assistant for Steve Kominar, current Executive Director for MCRA) he laid the groundwork that made Adam Victor look at Mingo County and say ‘I want to do business here.’”
TransGas plans to invest $3 billion in the facility. Approximately $1 billion will be spent in the region for steel, concrete, and supplies, along with some 3,000 skilled trades required to construct the plant over a three year period. Once operational, the plant will employ 300 plus full time staff and generate an equivalent number of jobs in direct services. Indirect jobs are expected to exceed 1,000.