Will Natural Gas Expand U.S. Chemical Industry?
While natural gas has become the once flared-off supplement to America’s sensational “fracking” expansion, its stand-alone value has already been manifest in its accelerated displacement of coal for electric utility power generation.
In addition, natural gas conversion to liquid form (LNG) for shipment to multi-faceted nations abroad is already in its formative stages. But even more, it’s on the verge of unlimited expansion of America’s already formidable chemical sector.
This unexpected value expansion of a fossil fuel, facilitated by the crude oil fracking technology may accede the benefits already provided to U.S. electric utilities, and even its potentially massive addition to America’s surprising $2 trillion-plus export boom, already among the top global quartet— China, Germany, Japan, U.S.A.
Natural gas is now being viewed as a prime potential by the American Chemical Society in a report entitled— Shale Gas Competitiveness, and new U.S. Chemical Industry Investment. The report indicates that worldwide companies have announced plans for a significant number of new projects to build and expand this shale-advantaged capacity in the U.S.
Through the end of March 2013, nearly 100 chemical industry investments, valued at $71.7 billion had been announced. Most of them are being made to expand production capacity for ethylene and its derivatives, such as methane, chlorine, and ethane. The report further estimates that 1.2 million jobs will be created during the investment phase, and 500,000 more during its production development.
The University of Texas Center for Energy Economics has estimated that the new petrochemical projects will boost industrial demand for natural gas by 19% to 31% by 2020. To put this in ultimate perspective, it means a projected increase in annual natural gas demand of 30% greater than has as yet been released by the shale gas boom.
To put the future of U.S. shale-liberated natural gas in total context, the combination of chemical manufacturing projects, the new and expanding LNG export terminals, and the utilities switching from coal, this once supplemental fossil fuel (natural gas) may well be on the way of crowning achievement, as the “poster child” of the unlimited “hydraulic fracturing” ongoing development.