China-funded methanol plants in Oregon

The Port of St. Helens in Columbia City, Oregon, as seen on their website, Jan. 22, 2014
The Port of St. Helens in Columbia City, Oregon, as seen on their website, Jan. 22, 2014

COLUMBIA CITY, Ore. (KOIN) – Two new methanol plants could be coming to the lower Columbia River, bringing more than 200 permanent jobs and 2,000 temporary union construction jobs. The projects could start as early as the beginning of 2018.

“We’re looking forward to having high-wage, living jobs in our community,” said Robert Keyser, Commissioner at Port of St Helens.

The five Port of St. Helens Commissioners still have to vote on the issue of bringing the methanol plant into Port of St. Helens Port Westward Plant in Clatskanie, Oregon on February 12 before that project can move forward.

“We’ve lost a lot of lumber and energy jobs here,” Keyser said.

The jobs that would be coming to both Clatskanie and Kalama would include chemists and engineering positions.

Both projects, mostly funded by the Chinese, would distill methanol from natural gas for making rubber and plastic products. The plants would get natural gas by pipeline and ship the methanol to China for processing into anything from laptops to water bottles.

Northwest Innovation Works is the primary backer but BP is also an investor, as well as H&Q Asia Pacific and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Each plant would cost $1 billion and employ about 120 people. The plants would be in Kalama, Washington, southeast of Longview, and to the west in Clatskanie, Oregon.

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