NPRA '11: US natgas prices may withstand nuclear shutdowns

29 March 2011 19:20  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--A backlash against nuclear power in the US will likely have little effect on natural gas prices because a relatively small number of plants would close, a consultant said on Tuesday.

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan damaged nuclear reactors, leading to dangerous radiation levels. This has increased worries about nuclear power.

The US has 104 nuclear plants, said Brian Habacivch, senior vice president of Fellon-McCord, an energy consultancy.

Habacivch was speaking at the Petrochemical Forum at the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), which was held by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA).

Out of those 104 plants, Habacivch estimates that 58 are on fault lines, are relatively old or are about to lose their licenses.

If those plants come off line in the next 1-3 years, then power plants would likely have to burn natural gas to make up the electricity deficit, he said.

Under the most likely scenario, 5% of the at-risk nuclear plants would come off line, Habacivch said. That would have little effect on natural-gas prices.

If 10% came off line, that would cause a noticeable effect, he said. If 20% were closed, then that would cause a large effect.

Natural gas is both an important fuel and feedstock for the US petrochemical industry.

Hosted by the NPRA, the IPC continues through Tuesday.


By: Al Greenwood
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