US could still drop the ball on shale gas – Dow

28 March 2012 23:50  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US still has the potential to squander its shale gas resources unless it has the right policies in place, a Dow Chemical executive warned on Wednesday.

The US petrochemical industry is “on the precipice of either the biggest boom or the biggest bust in modern history", said Jim Fitterling, executive vice president and president, feedstocks, energy and corporate development for Dow.

“This will either be the golden age of low-cost energy security and feedstock that powers the wellspring of economic growth or a precautionary talk about short-sighted policies and bad decisions,” he added at the IHS Chemical World Petrochemical Conference in Houston. “As a nation and as an industry we have the capacity to drop the ball on this.”

Fitterling said that 10-15 years ago, the US had an ample natural gas supply, “but we let some misguided policies drive up gas demand well beyond supply”.

As a result, “feedstock prices skyrocketed and they squeezed manufacturers out of the US”, he said.

In the space of 10 years the US switched from exporting $17bn (€13bn) in chemicals a year to importing $6bn, he said.

He said Dow does not oppose exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG). “Some will make the argument today that $2.50 [/mmBtu] gas is not sustainable and maybe that is so, but indiscriminately exporting the gas is unsustainable too on a country level.”

He said the US should export natural gas in “solid form” such as petrochemicals and other materials.

Dow has invested $500m in its US Gulf coast assets to increase their ability to consume light feedstock, and has announced $4bn worth of plans to increase ethylene and propylene production and connect special chemical operations to feedstocks from the Marcellus and Eagle Ford shale producing regions, he said.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Brian Ford
+1 713 525 2653

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