Clatskanie in line for $1B methanol plant

The city of Clatskanie could soon host a methanol manufacturing plant that would employ 120 workers and provide construction work for 1,000 trade industry types.

The plant, proposed by NW Innovation Works, would serve as the first part of a two-plant project that would also build a facility at the Port of Kalama. The Clatskanie facility, which would stem from a $1 billion investment by NW Innovation Works, would supply methanol made from natural gas that would be shipped to China for plastics, carpets and building materials. The methanol would be used to produce “olefin,” a compound frequently found in plastic water bottles and cell phone cases.

NW Innovation Works includes “key international partners” including the China Academy of Sciences and British Petroleum. The group says it has investments from Dalian, an industrial park and city in Northeast China, and H&Q AP, a Silicon Valley investment firm. H&Q AP manages a portion of Boeing Co.’s retirement fund.

Those working on the efforts are positioning methanol, of which the sterno burning compound is made, as an alternative to coal.

“This is an economic boost to Oregon and a replacement for coal in China,” said Greg Peden, the Portland-based Gallatin Public Affairs partner who’s working with NW Innovation Works.

Ground would break on the Oregon facility in 2015 and be completed by early 2018.

Methanol is a chemical that’s also biodegradable and non-carcinogenic, according to NW Innovation Works. It “evaporates when exposed to air and dissolves completely when mixed with water.”

“Olefin can...be produced with petroleum and from coal,” the group wrote. “Replacing oil and coal with olefin derived from methane made from natural gas reduces carbon emissions by as much as 70 percent.”

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