POINT PLEASANT, W.VA (June 17, 2019) – Domestic Synthetic Fuels (DS Fuels), a West Virginia-owned company that will convert the state’s abundant coal and natural gas to gasoline and other fuels, will soon break ground on a coal to liquids facility in Mason County.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently approved the draft construction permit for the project. Company officials plan a series of community meetings to explain the project and its benefits to the community.
Company officials encourage the public to learn more about the project – which is based on proven science and the latest technology. The facility will be the first of its kind in the country.
“We want to be as transparent as possible in explaining this project to our neighbors,” said Kevin Whited, president of the development company that is building the fuel facility. “We hope the DEP will host a public meeting, so we share information with the public about the exciting opportunities this facility will bring to the region.
The coal to liquids fuel facility is expected to create 130 full-time jobs, including management, mining and construction, and boost the local, state and regional economy,” Whited said. “We plan to host a series of open houses in the community to help explain the project.
“I’m from West Virginia,” Whited said. “We have West Virginians unemployed, and the coal industry has been decimated. We’re not the solution to revive it, but we’re going to be part of it.”
The direct coal to liquids process to be utilized in Mason County mixes coal with a catalyst and hydrogen derived from natural gas and subjects the mixture to heat and pressure to produce high quality diesel fuel, gasoline and other liquids. A similar fuel plant in China has been operating since 2008.
The resulting fuels burn cleaner than those refined from petroleum and are just as effective in vehicles.
Whited said the Mason County facility will differ from previous coal to liquids projects proposed for the state. The technology is more advanced, and the direct method used does not actually burn coal, but subjects it to heat and pressure, making the process much greener.
“This is environmentally sound,” Whited said. “We’re excited to bring a $1.2 billion project to the Mountain State.”
“(This plant) serves a vital role,” said Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “For decades, we've been looking at ways to expand the coal usage, coal development, activities and how we can expand the overall fossil fuel portfolio.
“Any type of domestic homegrown, synthetic fuel particularly manufactured from coal accelerates those objectives,” Hamilton said.
“Domestic Synthetic Fuels is unique for West Virginia and the United States as being a one-of-a-kind facility utilizing two of our biggest natural resources here in West Virginia,” said Rebecca McPhail, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association.
“DS Fuels is a good fit in West Virginia because of the natural resources that we have here,” she said. “The two primary ingredients for its manufacturing process, coal and natural gas, are in abundance here. So, it makes us the perfect location for this type of facility.”
Whited said he chose Mason County for the fuel plant because the area has easy barge access, and is close to plentiful supplies of coal and natural gas. He said he also wants to bring jobs and economic development to the region.
“We’re looking forward to getting it going,” he said. Funding has been secured for the project, which includes international investors.
“Unlike prior coal to fuel projects proposed in the Mountain State, this is going to happen,” Whited said. “We have the money, we have the technology and we have the expertise.”
Whited said DS Fuels will bring coal from nearby Kanawha County to feed the coal to liquids plant. The project is expected to create more than 100 mining jobs to supply the facility.
Thousands of construction jobs also will be created, he added.