Two Columbia River Methanol Plants Proposed

Plans are being drawn up to build a pair of facilities along the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest to produce methanol for export to China. credit: energysystems.com

Plans are being drawn up to build a pair of facilities along the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest to produce methanol for export to China. credit: energysystems.com

Portland, OR – Northwest Innovation Works, a joint venture between BP and China’s Academy of Sciences, is proposing the construction of two plants along the lower Columbia River to distill methanol from natural gas.

The plants at Kalama, Washington, and Port Westward on the Oregon side of the river, would cost $1 billion to build and employ about 120 people. Natural gas would be supplied to the plants via pipeline, while the finished product would be moved by ship to Dalian, China for processing into olefins, which are used in producing the plastic used in a wide range of consumer products from laptops and toys to water bottle and sporting goods, according to a spokesman for the proposed project.

With each covering about 80 acres, the plants would be the first of their kind in the Northwest and could expand in second phases, he said, adding that, when completed, the facilities could start production early in 2018.

The falities would require state emissions permits and will not use any raw material other than natural gas to produce the methanol, a liquid that evaporates quickly and completely dissolves in water.

Northwest Innovation Works executives have reportedly spoken with state officials to “look at the options” for tax breaks with a series of public meetings planned to discuss the project and its potential economic and environmental impact on the locale. The first meeting is scheduled in Longview, Washington, later this month.

Other investors in the proposed methanol project include the Asia-based private equity firm, H&Q Asia Pacific.

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