Steve Bennish’s piece in the Dayton Daily News this morning adds rich context to ACC’s newly developed fact sheets on shale gas investment opportunities in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.
Though statistics vary from state to state, you’ll find that each of the fact sheets tells the same story: access to vast, new supplies of natural gas from shale deposits is one of the most dramatic domestic energy developments in the last 50 years. The economics of shale gas not only creates a competitive advantage for U.S. petrochemical manufacturers, but also leads to greater U.S. investment and industry growth.
Also, be sure to check out Shawn McCarthy’s article in The Globe and Mail this morning – “Shale gas gives plastics sector new lease on life” – about a Calgary-based chemical company that is investing in low-cost natural gas from the Marcellus shale to displace oil as a feedstock for its operations.
More jobs possible from drilling offshoots
Dayton Daily News
New natural gas discoveries in Ohio could spell more jobs in spinoff industries from large-scale industrial chemical plants that could feed and foster additional manufacturing, industry representatives say.
Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, the trade association of the largest chemical companies, said so-called cracker plants would exploit ethane derived from natural gas. Chemists liken ethylene, which is obtained from ethane, to bread flour for baking in terms of its usefulness in making chemicals. It’s a factor in more than 90 percent of manufactured goods, Dooley said.
An additional 17,000 jobs could be created from one of these plants, according to the council.
But with the Utica Shale, the target of the new exploration, spread over many states, there’s no guarantee eastern Ohio would get one or many plants. They could go to Pennsylvania or West Virginia, too.
One company, Shell, has said it could make a decision by year’s end.
Gov. John Kasich’s office has been lobbying Shell to site the plant here, said Jack Pounds, president of Ohio Chemistry Technology Council, the state’s trade association whose members include Lubrizol, Ashland Inc., Dow, and DuPont. Pounds, who was tapped to provide information for the discussions, said, “Gov. Kasich has presented Shell with exciting opportunities.”
Pounds predicted the new industry would likely keep chemistry and engineering grads in Ohio as well as cause work force shortages for technically strong high school grads. “If you think about it, all plastics and composite products are made from natural gas. A car at a minimum contains $3,000 worth of plastics and composites,” Dooley said. Industry uses of natural gas also go into the making of computer chips, solar film in panels and composites in wind turbines.
Natural gas cracking plants commonly cost $1.5 billion or far more to build and can process hydrocarbons into ethylene and other synthetics. Shell Oil Co. in June announced its interest in building a facility. Dow Chemical Co. has also been mentioned in news reports.
Pounds said as many as three such facilities could be built in the Midwest to handle the Marcellus and the Utica shale.
Crackers get their name because they separate natural gas from liquid which is “cracked” down into various components.
After a cracker production complex is operating, it could produce annual industry revenue of $7.5 billion, $169 million in Ohio tax revenue and up to 17,000 full-time, long-term jobs in various industries in the state, Dooley added. The increase in jobs would largely include chemistry, manufacturing, transportation and trade and business services.