By jamison cocklin
Houston-based Pinto Energy plans to construct a 2,800-barrel-per-day gas- to-liquids refinery in Ashtabula.
The $250 million facility, which is expected to be operational by early 2016, will convert natural gas produced in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays into high-value synthetic liquids, such as solvents, lubricants, waxes and even diesel fuel.
When construction begins in 2014, the company anticipates it will create about 542 local jobs, 400 of which will be temporary construction positions.
The announcement adds to a bevy of other infrastructure projects underway throughout eastern Ohio, including pipelines and processing facilities.
Unlike other recent announcements for facilities that will separate gas and liquid and prepare product for market, Pinto’s facility will convert low-cost natural gas into petrochemicals and transportation fuels that fetch a higher price.
Pinto plans to construct the facility on an 80-acre site just east of Ashtabula. It started designing the plant in April.
Guy Dove, chairman of Pinto, said the company has more space at that site to expand and add 7,000 barrels of refining capacity.
Dove said the company will buy natural gas on the open market in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Pinto has not decided how much of each product it will produce at the facility.
Dove said the company was drawn to Ashtabula because of its ports and close proximity to Lake Erie and other refineries.
A new company making its first venture into Ohio, Pinto recently filed the project’s air and water permits. It also is in discussions with regional economic authorities.
The facility is expected to create 30 permanent jobs and an estimated 112 indirect jobs once it’s up and running.