China deal is ‘serious’ business: W.V. Gov. Justice

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice earlier this week was short on specifics, but showed enthusiasm for what he termed a “deathly serious” $83.7 billion China Energy investment plan for shale gas and petrochemical projects in West Virginia, the Wheeling (W.V.) News-Register newspaper reported.

“China wouldn’t be sending 28 people here if they weren’t deathly serious about the whole thing,” Justice said during a press conference in Wheeling. “They are traveling around the state and looking at sites and doing all kinds of different work.

Roughly a month ago, West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher went to Beijing to sign a memorandum of understanding with Chinese officials, in the presence of both President Trump and China President Xi Jinping.

Details, however, remain scarce, although natural gas-fired power plants in Brooke and Harrison counties reportedly are among the initial investment plans, the News-Register reported.

Other opportunities could include ethane crackers and storage areas, Kallanish Energy understands.

If China officials reach the $83.7 billion investment figure, it will be more than double the $35 billion West Virginia University Energy Institute director Brian Anderson estimates the entire oil and gas industry has spent in the state since the Marcellus and Utica Shale boom began.

It will also be more than the state’s annual gross domestic product — the total value of all goods and services produced in the state, which West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research Director John Deskins told the News-Register is roughly $75 billion.

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