Aither Chemicals Finds Market for Numerous Products

The State Journal
By Taylor Kuykendall, Reporter

A West Virginia company looking to capitalize on vast resources of shale gas announced Tuesday there is a market for various chemical products that can be extracted from Marcellus shale gas.

Aither Chemicals hosted an "open season" to determine market interest for chemicals and plastics that would be produced using its proprietary catalytic ethane cracking process. The company would take materials from "wet gas," natural gas laden with valuable chemical byproducts that is prominent in the Marcellus shale, and turn it into chemical feedstocks for the manufacturing industry.

"I am very pleased with the market response, which shows strong interest in the products that can be made using Aither's catalytic ethane cracking technology," said Aither CEO Leonard Dolhert. "Aither has the ideal process to build an ethane cracker in the Kanawha Valley and elsewhere in the world where ethane is available."

The company is now developing plans for product production volumes for ethylene oxide, ethylene glycol, polyethylene, acetic acid and ethylene. According to a news release from Aither, the company has "received a positive response from potential purchasers of Aither products, technology licensors, engineering procurement & construction companies (EPCs), potential licensees who wish to operate outside the United States, and companies considering relocation to the Kanawha Valley so their commercial plants could use Aither products."

"I am especially pleased with the response from multinationals headquartered outside the U.S. interested in licensing the technology for use in their markets," said Steven Cohen, Aither marketing director.

The chemicals produced by the process have been increasingly eyed as low gas prices are pushing drillers to "wetter" gas regions. While more expensive to process than dry gas, the price of the chemicals have made wet gas more attractive to drillers.

The proposed Aither plant would be smaller than some of the multi-billion dollar plants being considered. Shell is currently examining the option of placing one of these large sites in Pennsylvania after failed attempts to attract the region's first large ethane cracker.

 The Aither plant boasts a lower capital cost, lower operating cost, lower energy input and lower carbon dioxide emissions over traditional ethane cracker plants. According to a previous release from Aither, the project is seeking to raise more than $750 in capital and create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent direct production jobs.

Bayer MaterialScience LLC is assisting in evaluating market interest for Aither products.