The president and CEO of SPEDA (Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority) said there is nothing new to report on Extiel-Advantage Somerset, the proposed GTL (gas to liquid) plant that last year announced plans to locate on the former Crane Company property south of Ferguson, but Chris Girdler assured local officials are in regular contact with the Houston-based group.

"Judge (Steve) Kelley, Mayor (Alan) Keck and I continue to have regular dialogue with their proprietors as they are in their initial phase of fundraising for the possible endeavor," e-mailed Girdler. The managing director of Extiel GPG LLC, parent company of Extiel-Advantage Somerset, told the Commonwealth Journal recently the company is about ready to start a capital fund drive to raise $110 million to make the Somerset GTL plant a reality.

"We've got to raise $110 million," said Greg Carr in a telephone conversation with the Somerset newspaper. "The market is supportive ... we're very optimistic," Carr said. According to the initial non-binding framework agreement, debt financing of approximately $50 million was expected to be supplied by a commercial lender through a private capital markets transaction. Total cost of the GTL project is estimated to be $75 million.

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 would provide $15,960,000 in tax incentives over 20 years.

Original framework of the GTL plan with Extiel GPG LLC was negotiated by former Mayor Eddie Girdler and Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation prior to its merger with SPEDA. Mayor Girdler was defeated by Keck during last November's General Election. SPEDA is a new economic development foundation that more closely embraces the city and county.

Somerset was chosen as the GTL plant site because of its plentiful supply of natural gas. Somerset Gas Service has developed a natural gas pipeline network in Eastern Kentucky to transport natural gas out of the mountains, and the network is connected to three national natural gas transmission systems west of Somerset. The GTL plant requires pipeline quality natural gas to make paraffin wax, Group 3 base oil, environmentally friendly solvents HDS and LDS which increase fuel efficiency and minimize wear on engines.

Engineering work is being done on the Somerset GTL plant structure, Carr said. Although no dirt has been moved on the 23-acre plant site, Carr said projections are the same -- construction of the plant next year and production start-up in 2021.