ACC details US chemical rebound from abundant, affordable gas

Abundant, affordable US natural gas supplies resulted in 97 announced chemical and plastics projects totaling $71.7 billion in potential new investment, the American Chemical Council said in a recent report.

By 2020, the projects can lead to the creation of 46,000 chemical industry jobs, another 264,000 jobs in supplier industries, and 226,000 “payroll induced” jobs in communities where workers spend their wages, generating $20 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue, ACC indicated.

Nearly 1.2 million additional, temporary jobs will be created during the projects’ 2010-20 capital investment phase, the May 20 report said.

“The United States has become a magnet for chemical industry investment, a testament to the favorable environment created by America’s shale gas as well as a vote of confidence in a bright natural gas outlook for decades to come,” ACC Pres. Cal Dooley said.

“What’s especially exciting is that half of the announced investments are from firms based outside the US, which means our country is poised to capture market share from the rest of the world,” he said.

Government policies will strongly influence whether the US is able to realize the shale gas opportunity, according to the report. It said needed policies include access to gas supplies on government and private land; reliable transportation systems; timely permitting of new construction or expansion projects; and implementation of responsible, state-based regulations for natural gas production.

“Right now, the chemistry industry has the confidence needed to drive new US investment,” the report concluded. “Policymakers can help ensure that confidence continues for decades to come.”

ACC issued two previous reports examining economic benefits from US shale gas development. The first in March 2011 examined the economic impact of increased petrochemicals production based on a hypothetical 25% increase in ethane supply. The second in May 2012 considered the impact of lower gas prices and renewed competitiveness on the US paper, chemicals, plastic and rubber products, glass, iron and steel, aluminum, foundries, and fabricated metal products industries.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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