Keck says meeting with GTL officials was 'fantastic'

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A smiling Somerset Mayor Alan Keck, center, poses with (unidentified) officials of Extiel GPG LLC, Houston-based parent company of Extiel-Advantage Somerset, a gas-to-liquid plant proposed to be built on the former Crane Company property south of Ferguson. Keck, who recently went to Houston, said the Extiel GPG officials were gracious hosts and called the meeting fantastic.

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck, whose initial reaction to Extiel-Advantage Somerset was "cautiously optimistic with healthy skepticism," has recently returned from Houston after participating in what he called a "fantastic meeting" with the proposed GTL plant's parent company.

Extiel-Advantage Somerset is a gas-to-liquid plant proposed to be built on a 23-acre site that is the former Crane Company property south of Ferguson. Keck and SPEDA (Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority) have inherited efforts to finalize plans to locate the plant here from former Mayor Eddie Girdler and the former Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation. Keck defeated Girdler at last November's General Election and the development foundation has merged with SPEDA.

Greg Carr, managing director of Houston-based Extiel GPG LLC, parent company of Extiel-Advantage Somerset, tossed out a surprise, at least to the media, a few weeks ago when he revealed to the Commonwealth Journal Extiel GPG LLC investors had to raise $110 million before the Somerset GTL plant could be built.

Mayor Keck apparently liked what he saw in Houston. He released the following statement to the Commonwealth Journal: "I traveled to Houston last week and had a fantastic meeting with the folks at Extiel GPG. They were a very gracious host and it was helpful to see their process and learn more about how we can move forward. We are working hard to finalize some agreements that should allow them to wrap up their capital drive. We hope for some positive updates in the months ahead."

Carr responded: "We appreciated the opportunity to meet with Mayor Keck in our Houston offices and provide an update on our specialty chemicals project in Somerset. We look forward to working with Mayor Keck and Judge (Steve) Kelly, and their respective staffs, to finalize agreements that will allow our project financing to be completed in the coming months." Carr recently told the Commonwealth Journal target dates for the Somerset GTL plant have not changed –– complete construction late next year and be operational in 2021. "It will take about 18 months to build the plant," he noted.

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.

Extiel-Advantage Somerset would be Somerset's largest user of the city's plentiful supply of natural gas. Extiel would buy $5 million worth of natural gas annually during its Phase 1 operation and $24 million annually when Phase 2 is operational. The plant evemtually would hire up to 60 high-paid employees

According to the original framework non-binding agreement, Somerset will 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 former Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation, according to the original framework agreement, would provide Extiel-Advantage Somerset the proposed 23-acre plant site under a 10-year lease for a rate of $1 per year contingent upon the plant successfully operating for a minimum of five years, with an option to purchase for an additional $1 by the end of year 10.