Potential chemical investment due to low gas prices tops $100 billion

Potential US chemical industry investment linked to plentiful and affordable natural gas and natural gas liquids from domestic shale formations has topped $100 billion, the American Chemistry Council announced.

It said 148 projects valued at $100.2 billion have been announced as of February. The new factories, expansions, and process changes to increase capacity could lead to $81 billion/year in new chemical industry output and 637,000 permanent new jobs by 2023, the trade association representing chemical manufacturers noted.

More than half of the investment is by firms based outside the US, it added.

“This is a historic milestone for America’s chemical industry and proof that shale gas is a powerful driver of manufacturing growth,” ACC President Cal Dooley said.

“Thanks to the shale gas production boom, the United States is the most attractive place in the world to invest in chemical and plastics manufacturing,” he continued. “It’s an astonishing gain in competitiveness.”

ACC said that between 2012-2023, $100.2 billion more in capital outlays spending can create an estimated 55,000 permanent new chemical industry jobs, 314,000 jobs in supplier industries, and 267,000 payroll-induced jobs in communities where workers spend their wages.

It said its analysis showed that an additional 222,000 temporary jobs will be created during the capital investment phase, which peaks in 2016.

“Given the enormous benefits of shale-related manufacturing, we are encouraged by [US President Barack Obama’s] pledge to help make sure these projects happen,” Dooley said.

“We’re glad the White House agrees that regulatory permitting issues must not be a roadblock to new US investment, and we are excited to get these projects approved and built,” he maintained.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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