APLA '10: Shale gas game changer for global energy market

07 November 2010 22:09  [Source: ICIS news]

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS)--The expansion of shale gas production in the US represents a major shift in the global energy market by allowing the US to potentially become an exporter of natural gas, an industry consultant said on Sunday.

“To say that the US could someday export natural gas would be considered almost a heresy only two years ago,” said Luiz Carlos Costamilan during a presentation at the 30th Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

Costamilan said the technological breakthrough that allowed for large-scale shale gas production in the US was the equivalent of what happened on the Web after the launching of the Twitter message service.

Twitter was not even around not long ago, but last July some 90m tweets were floating on the Web, he told delegates.

The consultant said the development and the speed of shale gas production in the US created a new paradigm for the energy world, including forcing some countries that had previously planned to export gas to the US to now find a new market.

Some $40.0bn (€28.4bn) was invested in natural gas production in Qatar, which originally planned to ship the product to the US but now will probably have to send it to Europe, he said.

Costamilan said shale gas also is a game changer for the US petrochemical industry, as the US now has a much more competitive feedstock than some other regions of the world.

US ethane follows the price of natural gas, which now costs around four times less than crude oil, he said, referring to the main feedstock used for US ethylene production.

In Brazil, natural gas costs the equivalent of crude oil, Costamilan said, adding that the US price of natural gas in Brazil would be considered a “sea of roses,” for Brazilian petrochemicals makers.

The 2010 APLA conference opened on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro with nearly 800 delegates.

The event will close on Tuesday.

($1 = €0.71)

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By: William Lemos
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