(Reuters) - Thai chemical company PTT PCL (PTT.BK) said on Friday its U.S. unit expects to decide in the next six to nine months whether to build a proposed $5.7 billion plant called an ethane cracker in Ohio, putting off a decision it had said would likely come in the first half of 2020.
“While the pandemic has prevented us from moving as quickly as we would like within our previous timeline, our best estimate is for a final investment decision by the end of this year or in the first quarter of next year,” Toasaporn Boonyapipat, President and CEO of PTT’s PTTGC America (PTTGCA) unit, said in a statement.
PTTGCA and its partner, South Korea’s Daelim Industrial Co Ltd (000210.KS), had said they planned to decide in the first half of 2020 on the ethane cracker, a chemical plant which would be used to produce ethylene, an ingredient in plastic.
Sources told Reuters the partners have indefinitely delayed an investment decision on the project. But PTTGCA said it “is still progressing with the project and at no point put the project on indefinite hold.”
An already saturated plastic market has been further shaken by a demand shock during the coronavirus pandemic.
The facility is designed to produce about 1.5 million metric tons of ethylene per year. Ethylene is used to make plastic, among other things.
PTTGCA said it chose the Ohio site because it is located in the Marcellus and Utica shale region, the biggest U.S. natural gas shale formation. Ethane is a natural gas liquid that comes from oil and gas wells.
The project is expected to take between four and six years to build.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio