US manufacturing benefits from abundance of shale gas - economists

19 April 2012 17:30  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The abundance of cheap natural gas has led a renaissance in the US manufacturing sector, economists said on Thursday.

The chief economists with the American Petroleum Institute (API), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and American Chemistry Council (ACC) held a joint conference call on Thursday to discuss the importance of energy to growing the economy.

ACC chief economist Kevin Swift said natural gas derived from shale rock has been the most important energy development of the last 75 years.

“Natural gas is to the [petrochemical industry] as flour is to bakeries,” he said. “Affordable natural gas also provides the US with a competitive advantage over global competitors.”

He said cheap domestic supplies of natural gas have spurred over 30 potential investments, such as Dow Chemical’s announcement of a world-scale cracker in Texas.

The onset of cheap natural gas could potentially lead to a chemical output of over $30bn (€23bn), creating 17,000 new jobs and 395,000 additional jobs in the supply chain and construction phase, Swift said.

API chief economist John Felmy said in addition to creating about 1.4m jobs by 2025, the development of shale gas would generate $800bn for the federal government in the same time period, as well as provide energy security.

If developed properly, shale gas, in addition to crude oil imports from Canada, could help North America achieve energy independence in 12 years, Felmy said.

However, over regulation and taxation could hinder that progress, said NAM chief economist Chad Moutray.

He said regulation and taxation is the top concern for energy producers and manufacturers.

($1 = €.76)

By: Bobbie Clark
+1 713 525 2653

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