Ohio is competing with Pennsylvania and West Virginia for a multibillion-dollar chemical plant that would process material from the Utica and Marcellus shales.
Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC is expected to decide in early 2012 where the ethane cracker plant will be built.
The company has looked at more than 40 sites in the three states.
Ohio has offered state incentives of $1.4 billion to Shell Chemicals, according to Greenwire, a national energy and environmental news service.
According to the American Chemistry Council, the cracker would generate 17,000 jobs in Ohio in chemical and supply industries and $7.5 billion in chemical industry output, plus $1 billion in wages and $169 million in state tax revenue.
Crackers turn the byproducts of drilling into constituent parts and process them for useful products. The crackers turn ethane into ethylene, a common plastic feedstock used in products ranging from plastic packaging to grocery bags.
Ethane is one of the products being found in drilling in eastern Ohio and surrounding states. The drilling is also finding natural gas, oil and other so-called wet liquids: propane and butane.
Ethane is difficult to transport and is typically cracked or processed close to where it was drilled.
Last June, Shell said it was interested in building a cracker plant in what the company described only as Appalachia.
The project would require hundreds of acres and as many as 10,000 construction workers and would employ several hundred workers when complete, said Shell spokesman Dan Carlson, speaking at an energy conference on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
The plant would process 60,000 to 80,000 42-gallon barrels of ethane a day and produce 1 million tons of ethylene annually, according to reports.
Shell could add an adjoining complex to process polyethylene and mono-ethylene glycol.
The new plant would need to obtain state permits for air and water discharges.
Last spring, West Virginia approved tax breaks for cracker plants equal to those available to manufacturing facilities.
Shell has four such plants in the United States and has Marcellus holdings in Pennsylvania. In mid-2010, the company purchased the Marcellus holdings of East Resources for $4.7 billion.
Several other companies have been looking into building a plant in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It is possible that more than one could be built, experts said.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.