US shale gas boom may lead to new US Gulf chemical investments

22 March 2011 22:56  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The time might be ripe for a new wave of petrochemical investments in the US Gulf coast as a result of cheap ethane from shale gas reserves, a top industry economist said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Houston Economics Club, American Chemistry Council (ACC) chief economist Kevin Swift said the North American chemical industry was still in an economic recovery following the recession of 2009, but the advent of shale gas extraction could greatly accelerate that process.

A 25% increase in ethane production in the US as a result of shale gas availability would generate an additional $32.8bn (€23.0bn) in petrochemicals and derivatives output, he said, which in turn would require a $16.1bn private sector capital investment by the industry.

Without new investments, production growth by US Gulf coast chemicals manufacturers is forecast to raise 1.7-1.8%/year from 2013 through 2015.

But with new investments resulting from cheap ethane feedstock, Gulf coast chemicals production would rise 2.5-4.3% in that same period, Swift said, compared with a global growth rate of 4.2% by 2015.

“It’s probably a good time to be a chemical industry CEO,” he quipped.

The chemical industry in Texas produces $153.4bn/year in revenue, making it the fifth largest chemical producer in the world, Swift said.

($1= €0.70)

By: Brian Ford
+1 713 525 2653

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