A planned methanol production facility in Institute took another step in its development Thursday, as the West Virginia Economic Development Authority gave preliminary approval for a $10 million loan to US Methanol to purchase its machinery and equipment.
The EDA approved the motion, which is for a 10-year term, in its monthly board meeting. The plant, known as Liberty One Methanol, is the first the California-based startup will develop. It is expected to create about 350 temporary construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs in the plant, according to US Methanol Chief Commercial Officer Brad Gunn.
Liberty One won’t be built from scratch, Gunn said. Instead, US Methanol is in the middle of disassembling a methanol plant in Brazil and will reconstruct it in the Dow Chemical facility in Institute. It is expected to be up and running by the end of this year or early 2018, Gunn added.
“[The loan] fits our overall strategy to get the plant in operation soon,” Gunn said. “It doesn’t finance the development of the plant itself, but it goes toward the equipment we’ll use. Getting it is a big part of the process.”
Gunn said the plant will produce about 150,000 metric tons of methanol a year. Methanol is obtained from natural gas and has several manufacturing uses. It can be used in the manufacturing process of gasoline, antifreeze, glass screens on smartphones and more.
US Methanol has plans to develop more facilities in West Virginia but hasn’t yet officially decided on any locations, Gunn said.