The managing director of Houston-based GPG LLC, parent company of Extiel-Advantage Somerset, proposed GTL (gas to liquid) plant to locate on the former Crane Company property, said this week everything is on schedule for the plant to start production by the end of next year.

Greg Carr, in a telephone conversation Tuesday with the Commonwealth Journal, said the GTL plant is in a " ... detailed engineering phase." He said geotechnical engineering, such as core drilling, has been done at the plant site " ... and we have visited the plant site several times." A groundbreaking ceremony should be held the middle of next year with construction to follow, he noted.

Carr said there have been no physical changes at the 23-acre plant site "... not yet, we're not at that stage." Earlier, GPG LLC officials said most of the plant's structural parts will be built at Houston and hauled here by truck.

According to earlier information, Extiel-Advantage Somerset will be built in two phases, with approximately 60 well-paid employees when the second phase is operational. "Sixty ... that's not a promise, but possible," reacted Carr. "We plan to start with 30-32 employees," he added.

Initial work to attract the GTL plant to Somerset was done by former Mayor Eddie Girdler and Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation, recently merged with SPEDA (Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority). Despite some voiced skepticism by incoming Mayor Alan Keck, Carr said there is "absolutely good cooperation" with the new city administration. Chris Girdler, president and CEO of SPEDA, in a recent e-mail to the Commonwealth Journal said " ... At this time, we are still having productive dialogue with the company and ensuring all the required due diligence is completed by all parties involved. We greatly appreciate the company's interest in our community."

In the deal, allegedly signed and announced publicly, Somerset would invest $2,270,000 extending utilities to the plant site and providing office space and training support. Pulaski County is credited with a $345,000 contribution of the plant site, and the state will provide $15,960,000 in tax incentives over 20 years.The proposed plant will be a down-sized version of a large-scale GTL plant design and will produce 250 barrels per day of ultra-clean synthetic fuel products, waxes and industrial hydrogen.

The GTL plant requires pipeline quality natural gas to make the following products:

• FDA approved Paraffin Wax used by many industries.

• Group 3 base oil.

• Environmentally friendly solvents HDS and LDS which increase fuel efficiency and help minimize wear on an engine.

• Hydrogen, 99 percent pure. A GTL press release says three local businesses are committed to expand once hydrogen is available.

Carr said earlier it will be necessary to raise $110 million before the Somerset plant is a reality. He has expressed optimism the funds can be raised.

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