Ethane storage seen as key to revitalization of Appalachia

CLEVELAND (AP) - Two companies plan to build underground facilities to store a byproduct of natural gas drilling that's seen as key to creating a petrochemical and plastics industries - and tens of thousands of jobs - in a long-struggling Appalachian region.

The byproduct called ethane is the feedstock for producing raw plastic that's then manufactured into the ubiquitous, everyday stuff. Industry experts and backers say storage facilities for ethane are needed to provide an uninterrupted supply of the natural gas liquid to petrochemical plants built in the region of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The region is waiting on a much-anticipated decision by a partnership between companies from Thailand and South Korea whether to build a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant to convert ethane into raw plastic in eastern Ohio's Belmont County.