Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's announcement Thursday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg's Caperton Center that Odebrecht, a Brazilian company, will begin efforts that could lead to the development of a long-awaited ethane "cracker" plant in Wood County, while not definitive, was certainly encouraging.
Tomblin, along with Odebrecht CEO Fernando Reis and Fernando Musa, CEO of Braskem America, the company that would be responsible for petrochemical-related activities as well as the commercialization of the polyethylene after the investment is completed, all emphasized that this is not a done deal at this time, but all are extremely optimistic.
"There's a lot of hurdles we still have to jump through," Tomblin said. "But I feel very confident we have developed the relationship with Odebrecht that is a good one, and I think they can respond to it. We have the resources and the business atmosphere that they're looking for."
That is encouraging and could be the "game changer" the governor envisions. A cracker plant has long been rumored. If Odebrecht's plans do come to fruition, "game changer" would be an apt description of the prospects, not only for Wood County, but for the region as well.
It is tangible proof that the oil and gas fracking boom could have the lasting employment benefits its backers have claimed from the beginning.