Pulaski County Kentucky Government

Houston-based gas company headed for Somerset

GTL plant will invest $75 million in community initially; nearly 100 jobs will be created after two phases

  • By BILL MARDIS Commonwealth Journal
Looking at plans for the GTL plant that announced plans this week to locate in Somerset are, from left, Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, George Wilson, Somerset Natural Gas Development officer, Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley and Martin Shearer, executive director, Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation.Bill Mardis | CJ

  A subsidiary of Extiel-GPG, LLC, Extiel-Advantage Somerset 1 LLC will use a technology to convert natural gas into high-value, full-synthetic waxes, base oils and solvents. The proposed plant will be a down-size 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, according to Martin Shearer, executive director, Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation. Construction of the plant is expected to begin late this year and operations will start in 2020.

The company plans to invest $75 million in land, building and equipment and create 30-35 jobs in Phase 1, and within four years, a $150 million expansion in Phase 2 will create 60 new jobs. Salaries will range from $35,000 to $100,000.

The plant will be located on a 23-acre site off Thoroughbred Drive near Somerset Rail Park and adjacent to the former Crane Company building. Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said infrastructure is in place for natural gas, electricity, water and sewer for Phase 1, but for Phase 2 a natural gas pipeline will have to be built from the West Somerset area, along Ky. 914 and through Ferguson to serve the plant.

“They wouldn’t build Phase 1 unless we could handle Phase 2, already started,” said Girdler. One of the largest natural gas users ever, Extiel will buy $5 million worth of natural gas annually during its Phase 1 operation and $24 million annually when Phase 2 goes on line. Girdler smiled when asked how this money will enhance Somerset’s budget. “It will enable us to do some things we haven’t been able to do … including keeping natural gas prices and property taxes low,” he said.

Extiel got $15.9 million from the state in tax incentives. Somerset contributed $2,270,000 in electricity, water, gas and sewer lines installed to the plant site. Also, the city will provide gas compression, roadway extension to the plant site, fencing and lighting, employee training support, expedited permitting assistance and office space in the Energy Center. Girdler said Somerset, working with Somerset Community College and regional universities, also will headquarter a training center for natural gas technicians for the entire region. Pulaski County provided the 23-acre greenfield development land site worth $345,000.

 “It took us all … the city, the county, the industrial foundation, staff at city hall, to get (Extiel),” said Girdler. “It was a cooperative effort … there were many meetings and telephone conference calls over two years.”

Greg Carr, spokeman for Extiel, during a telephone call from Houston to local officials, expressed appreciation “… for the efforts of Somerset City Council and Mayor Girdler, Pulaski Fiscal Court and Judge-Executive Steve Kelly, Ferguson Mayor Allen Dobbs, Kentucky state legislators Rick Girdler and Tommy Turner in helping direct the plant to Somerset. Investors in the plant live in Houston, Miami, Seattle and other areas.

Carr said components for the plant are being built in Houston and will be brought to Somerset on trucks.  “The available natural gas supply situation and the new Somerset Energy Center and its capabilities were also important to our decision,” Carr said. He said the fact Lake Cumberland is nearby is a plus for employees’ recreational pursuits. “It’s a beautiful area and we had support, Carr added.

“Without the Energy Center, they wouldn’t have looked at us,” observed Girdler. “We took them inside … showed them the technology … it is impressive,” Girdler said. “Somerset has connections to three national gas pipeline systems to the west and a city-owned network of pipelines bring natural gas from eastern mountains. The mayor praised foresight of city fathers during the 1970s for building a natural gas pipeline from Somerset to near Hyden in Leslie County.