The memorandum of understanding signed last week between the Mountain State and China Energy is being called the biggest single investment in the history of West Virginia. One thing is certain. The economic impact from the proposed $83.7 billion investment will be far-reaching and positive for the entire state.
The agreement calls for shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in the Mountain State. The memorandum of understanding was signed by West Virginia State Commerce Secretary H. Wood Thrasher and China Energy President Ling Wen, both of whom were joined by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the signing ceremony.
According to a news release from the state Department of Commerce, China Energy chose West Virginia because of the state’s position as a key energy-producing state and the fact that it is home to one of the largest shale gas reserves.
China Energy is the result of a merger between the state-owned coal mining company Shenhua Group and energy producer Guodian Group. China Energy is one of the world’s largest power companies with more than 200,000 employees.
As currently proposed, the planned projects will take place in phases over the course of 20 years. The projects will focus on power generation, chemical manufacturing and underground storage of natural gas liquids and derivatives. While sites have not yet been finalized for the proposed developments, Thrasher said two areas under consideration are Brooke and Harrison counties.
Lawmakers are applauding the agreement as a potential game changer for the Mountain State.
“This is a great day for the state of West Virginia,” Gov. Jim Justice said last week. “I’ve been saying for the last couple of months that the tides are turning in West Virginia and this is proof. Today is another sign as (West Virginia) joined with my good friend President Trump to announce the largest investment in our state’s history.”
“The infusion of capital will take advantage of shale gas reserves in terms of building all kinds of things, whether it’s power plants, chemical plastics or the ethane storage hub which I’ve talked quite a bit about is a real reality here,” U.S. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., added. “The job impact and economic impact will be enormous.”
“I’ve always said that an energy economy is a jobs economy, and we now have a president who is embracing West Virginia’s energy and jobs potential,” U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., added. “This shows what we can do when we put our resources to work for us, and I thank Senator Capito, Governor Justice and Congressman McKinley for their leadership. I will work with our state and federal officials to ensure that this agreement will result in unprecedented job growth and investment in West Virginia.”
We, too, are excited about this agreement, and the large-scale investments that are planned as part of it. While we do not yet know if any of the proposed developments will occur in the southern end of the state, the size and scope of the planned projects is still a boon for the entire state.