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Natural gas synthesis plant proposed

LOCK HAVEN — An effort has been underway for 16 months to explore the development of a natural gas synthesis plant in western Clinton County by Frontier Natural Resources and a new company formed for the purpose called ‘KeyState Agri,’ both of Bellefonte.

Perry Babb, spokesman for the KeyState stopped at The Express on Thursday to informally introduce the proposed $500,000,000 project that could potentially generate 600 to 800 jobs during construction and 150 to 200 permanent jobs.

A natural gas synthesis plant uses the methane in natural gas as a feedstock to produce a range of products used in agriculture, industry, medicines and transportation. A synthesis plant is not a ‘cracker plant.’ The majority of CO2 generated in gas synthesis processes is captured and used in the making of other products. More than a dozen similar plants have been built and safely operated across the US in the last 30 years.

“The economic development impact would be profound and generational,” Babb said.

“Commercial and other activity generated would go beyond Clinton County, impacting areas of Cameron, Centre and Clearfield, local rail siding and road upgrades, housing for the construction workforce proposed to be converted to permanent affordable housing, coordination of workforce development programs with the surrounding county high schools, vo-tech schools as well as Lock Haven, Penn College and Penn State University, substantial research activities with the surrounding universities and major wildlife habitat enhancement in reclaimed mining and other areas funded,” he continued.

Dozens of local, county, state and federal elected and public officials have been engaged and have given critical guidance and support to the project concept, Babb said.

The facility is planned for a 30-acre portion of a private 7,000 acre tract in West Keating Township near Frontier Natural Resources’ new LNG plant (liquified natural gas). The land is located in a Federal Qualified Opportunity Zone, he added.

“There are still many, many hurdles to cross, but there seems to be no fatal flaws at this point and we are cautiously optimistic” Babb said.

“Most importantly, we have commitments from major industry distributors, who also happen to be based in Pennsylvania, to buy 100% of the plant’s proposed production of ag feeds and fertilizer, industrial hydrogen and ammonia and Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), which is required for diesel engines to dramatically reduce emissions….and major Investment Banks are engaged,” Babb said.

He said KeyState and Frontier both agreed it was time to let the public know what’s been going on behind the scenes and decided to make this informal announcement.

Hopefully, in mid or late summer, Babb said an educational event will be held in western Clinton County. There would be local, state and federal officials, technology companies, wildlife habitat managers, workforce educators, researchers and residents who will be able to interact and ask questions, he said.

As far as a timeline goes, Babb said there’s still considerable work to be done with almost 2 years of engineering, planning and permitting and then 2 1/2 years of construction.

“We’re looking at sometime in late 2024 to begin operations,” he said.

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