Energy demand from US chemical producers to grow fast – Exxon exec

10 January 2013 19:49  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Energy demand from US-based chemical producers is expected to grow fast in the next 25 year as the shale-gas boom has revitalised the country’s petrochemicals manufacturing sector, an ExxonMobil executive said on Thursday.

“ExxonMobil’s energy outlook indicates that the chemicals subsector of industrial energy demand will be the fastest-growing over the next 25 years," ExxonMobil Chemical senior vice president Bruce Macklin said in a presentation to a manufacturing conference.

As recently as five years ago, the US was on the verge of becoming an importer of chemicals, Macklin said.

However, with abundant and affordable domestic natural gas, the industry is “back on the path of competitively serving the growth markets of Asia and other parts of the world”, Macklin said.

“This is a great story, but it’s just the beginning,” he said.

“Given the feedstock advantage and the demand for our products, for the first time in a decade, producers in North America are talking about expansion in the form of debottlenecks and new grassroots stream crackers,” he added.

ExxonMobil, for its part, has filed permit applications for a petrochemical expansion at its Baytown production hub near Houston, where it plans to add an ethane cracker. The company also plans to add polyethylene facilities at the nearby Mont Belvieu.

If developed, the project could create about 10,000 construction jobs and add about 350 permanent jobs to the company’s workforce of 6,500 in the Baytown area.

“The proposed investment reflects ExxonMobil’s confidence in the natural-gas driven revitalisation of the US chemical industry,” Macklin said.

“The innovative application of technology to produce natural gas is enabling US chemical manufacturers to once again invest in North America, create thousands of jobs and increase sales to domestic and global markets,” he said.

Additional reporting by Al Greenwood

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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