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Chinese energy executive says $84 billion investment in West Virginia still on track

Highlights

Executives scheduled to visit West Virginia

Memorandum of understanding signed in November

A plan calling for nearly $84 billion in Chinese investment in West Virginia petrochemical and natural gas projects will be honored despite the rumblings of a trade war between the US and China, the head of the Chinese conglomerate making the investment push said in Hong Kong on Monday.

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"We and the West Virginia government, and other related companies, have always been extremely aggressive in pushing forward this project," China Energy Investment General Manager Ling Wen told reporters at a media briefing on the earnings of its China Shenhua Energy subsidiary.

Ling said: "Both sides have kept very close contact with each other ever since, and what has been reported in the media, such as we stopped our mutual engagement or canceled our trips -- was not true," the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

China Energy Investment's CEO and other executives were scheduled to come to the state in time for West Virginia officials to make the announcement of the first natural gas and NGL project investments at a June petrochemical conference in Pittsburgh.

The Chinese officials canceled their appearance at the same time the Trump administration was revving up new tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods.

West Virginia officials told S&P Global Market Intelligence in late June that plans to invest billions of dollars over the next two decades are still on track.

China Energy and West Virginia officials signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2017 that described an $83.7 billion investment commitment in gas and gas liquids-related industries over the next 20 years. It was the single largest deal in a package of roughly $250 billion worth of commitments between Chinese and US businesses signed during President Trump's first state visit to Beijing.

For perspective, the state's extraction industries, including coal mining and oil and gas production, accounted for just over $9.8 billion of West Virginia's $76.8 billion 2017 gross domestic product, according to the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis. China Energy's commitment comes to just over $4 billion/year.

-- Bill Holland, S&P Global Market Intelligence, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com