Company reviews North Pole for possible petrochemical plant

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- North Pole is one of two locations under consideration by Williams Companies for a plant that could turn North Slope natural gas into plastics if a gas line is built.

The company said it's considering locations for a billion-dollar petrochemical plant that would use gas to manufacture pellets for plastic goods.

A company economic feasibility study said a plant in North Pole or western Canada is under consideration.

''Under current conditions, it looks economically feasible,'' said Jeff Cook, spokesman for Williams Alaska Petroleum, which operates a North Pole refinery and is a subsidiary of the Williams Companies.

The plant could be built on 200 acres next to the refinery.

Polyethylene pellets are created by stripping ethane out of natural gas. Pellets can be converted into millions of plastic products, including automotive parts and health care goods.

Williams will analyze potential markets for the plastic pellets, Cook said. Pellets produced in western Canada would go to the United States. Asia would be the market for North Pole plastic pellets, Cook said.

Asian markets have the most potential for growth, Cook said.

''The U.S. is a good, stable market, but you have economies (in Asia) that are going to be upgraded,'' he said.

The Alaska Railroad could take pellets to Anchorage, where they would be loaded onto ships bound for Asia, Cook said.

Once operational, a petrochemical plant would employ 400 people, he said.

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