More Than $83 Billion Coming To WV
Governor James C. “Jim” Justice is announcing that his administration entered into an agreement with the China Energy Investment Corporation for them to invest up to $83.7 billion on a number of shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia.
The Thursday, November 9th, 2017 announcement is the culmination of months of intense work by the Governor, the Trump Administration, State Commerce Secretary H. Wood “Woody” Thrasher and other members of state government.
Since taking office in January, Justice directed Thrasher to travel to China on two occasions to negotiate on this deal as well as hosting officials from China in West Virginia twice in recent months.
President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed Thrasher and China Energy representative Ling Wen sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between China Energy and the state of West Virginia as part of the US-China Business Exchange trade mission to enhance relations between the two countries. The China Energy announcement in West Virginia was the largest investment in a series of projects in US corporations and other states totaling a reported $250 billion of investment in the United States.
The company made several trips to West Virginia, and the MOU marks the first step in a series of commitments China Energy plans to make in the Mountain State.
Planning for the projects is underway and will proceed 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. The plans clearly demonstrate a total value chain approach, integrated from raw materials through the production of useful chemical intermediates locally.
“I want to thank President Donald Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, State Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, and the many others who have been involved in making this historic investment in West Virginia become a reality,” says Justice in this news release.
This is a continuation of Justice’s promise to bring jobs and prosperity to the Mountain State. It also continues a 10-month winning streak that includes a rebound in the coal industry, expansion of the Toyota Manufacturing facility in Putnam County and Hino Motors in Wood County, the establishment of the West Virginia Great Barrel Company in Greenbrier County, and the overwhelming approval and passage of the Road Bond Referendum that will create tens of thousands of new jobs in West Virginia.
“We have had a complete turnaround in West Virginia in 2017. Just think, we started with a $500 million dollar deficit and now the jobs are coming back and where there was despair there is now real hope. All of these things have created a momentum to bring prosperity and goodness to the people of our state,” Justice adds. “While this is a great day for West Virginia we truly believe there are thousands of more great days to come.”
“West Virginia has actively sought direct foreign investment to strengthen and diversify our economy,” says Thrasher. “Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Hino Motors, Gestamp, Sogefi and other solid corporate citizens with international parent companies create jobs, generate incomes and support communities in West Virginia. In that same spirit, we welcome China Energy and the mutual benefits our energy collaboration will bring.”
China Energy selected West Virginia for this project because of the State’s position as a key energy-producing state and home to one of the world’s largest shale gas reserves, underpinned by a longstanding relationship between the two entities.
West Virginia enjoys a strong relationship with China Energy, including ongoing research initiatives with West Virginia University. WVU and then-Shenhua Group began their relationship in 2002 with joint research on direct coal liquefaction technology.
“The massive size of this energy undertaking and level of collaboration between our two countries is unprecedented,” said Secretary Thrasher. “It required cooperation between state and federal level officials. Senator Shelley Moore Capito has worked hand in hand with the West Virginia Development Office for months to ensure this unparalleled economic development opportunity was realized for the state of West Virginia.”
“Expanding Appalachia’s energy infrastructure, including developing a regional storage hub and market for natural gas liquids, will have a transformative effect on our economy, our security, and our future. From driving growth and creating jobs to maximizing America’s energy potential, the benefits for West Virginia and the country from this new investment will be significant and long-lasting,” says Senator Shelley Moore Capito, (R). “That’s why I worked diligently to expand West Virginia’s energy infrastructure and bring this investment to our state, advocating for it with President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretaries Perry and Ross. I’m excited to continue working with the administration, and state, local and private-sector leaders to keep this effort moving forward.”
“I am thrilled Secretary Thrasher and China Energy have signed the Memorandum of Understanding today in Beijing. I have always said that West Virginians are the hardest working people in the world. I’m glad China Energy recognizes this and is working with us to create jobs and economic growth in our state,” says Senator Joe Manchin, (D).
“This investment in shale gas resources located here in West Virginia will spur tremendous economic growth in our communities,” says Congressman David McKinley, (R). “Secretary Thrasher has been in constant contact with my office as his team has worked out the details for this project. We commend him for his dedication to bringing new jobs to the Mountain State, and we look forward to the opportunities created by this new partnership.”
However, the announcement is being questioned.
“I am somewhat skeptical of such a large number,” says Alex Wolf, senior emerging markets economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “I suspect they might be primarily MOUs (memorandum of understandings) instead of actual contracts and the actual contract amount may be substantially less.”
China Energy is the recent creation of a merger between China’s state-owned coal mining company Shenhua Group and energy producer Guodian Group. The merger positions China Energy as the world’s largest power company with more than 200,000 employees.