Developer drops plans for Berks County gas-to-liquids plant

  • Marie Cusick

Canadian developer, EmberClear, has dropped plans to build a $1 billion gas-to-liquids plant in Berks county. The company had planned to purchase a 63-acre site in South Heidelberg Township, about 10 miles west of Reading.

The idea for the plant was to turn Pennsylvania’s cheap, abundant natural gas into more expensive liquid fuel. However, project manager Jim Palumbo told the Reading Eagle the company has decided not to pursue the project, citing community push back and the time involved in getting the necessary permits.

From the Reading Eagle:

The company’s purchase option for the 63-acre farm field on Mountain Home Road and Krick Lane has also expired, township officials said.

In March, EmberClear received preliminary approval for plans for a facility to turn natural gas into 87-octane gasoline and propane. The company needed many more regulatory approvals before moving ahead, but hoped to begin construction as early as mid-2015, officials said.

The farm field was a great find, Palumbo said, since the company had an agreement with the Sunoco Logistics terminal in nearby Sinking Spring to buy and store the gasoline produced at the new facility.

“You weren’t creating a facility from scratch,” Palumbo said.

If built, the gas-to-liquids plant would have been one of the first such facilities of its kind in the United States. But as StateImpact Pennsylvania previously reported, industry analysts were doubtful the project would move forward since the economics of these types of facilities often don’t make a lot of sense.

Gas-to-liquid plants are incredibly expensive to build and require many years of low natural gas prices, along with many years of high gasoline prices.

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