Growing U.S. shale investment reviving domestic, overseas chemical industries

Investment in the U.S. chemical industry connected to shale-based sources has jumped 128.7 percent in only three years.

According to the American Chemistry Council, chemical industry investment in natural gas and natural gas liquids from shale has grown to $164 billion spread across 264 projects that include the construction of new facilities and the reopening of previously closed plants. Some 40 percent of those projects are already completed or in progress and 55 percent are currently being planned.

The $164 billion in investments has the potential to create 738,000 new jobs throughout the U.S. by 2023: 69,000 jobs in the chemical industry, 357,000 in supplier industries and 312,000 in the communities where employees reside. The investment may also spur $105 billion per year in new output in the chemical industry.

The figures were announced by ACC at the event, "America's Future Natural Gas Economy: Promoting the Next Energy Breakthrough," held at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. Said ACC Senior Director of Energy Policy Owen Kean at the event:

"U.S. chemical manufacturers rely on natural gas for heat and power, and it contains ethane, an NGL that serves as our main feedstock. Dramatic supply growth has had an equally dramatic impact on U.S. natural gas prices. It's a stunning reversal of fortune from just a few years ago, when the chemical industry was losing market share and jobs to competitors abroad."

The increase in shale feedback is also boosting the chemical markets overseas, reported Natural Gas Intelligence. INEOS Group Ltd., a chemicals company based in Switzerland, recently announced that a manufacturing plant that had been previously shut down would be reopened late this year due to new ethane deliveries arriving from the U.S.