US petrochem producers want clear federal energy policy before investing in shale-gas steam crackers

09-Mar-11
US petrochemical producers want a clear federal energy policy to ensure the continued domestic shale-gas supply before they make large investments in steam crackers that utilize the feedstock, as per Bloomberg. New drilling techniques are boosting production from the Marcellus Shale formation, which according to Energy Department estimates is the largest known U.S. gas field, keeping U.S. prices of natural-gas low relative to oil. Gas production from shale formations may double by 2035, according to U.S. Energy Department projections. Profit margins from ethylene in the U.S. may reach a record, as low natural gas prices relative to oil boost exports and demand improves. Production from shale formations has increased supply and made US ethylene costs among the lowest in the world. Low gas costs relative to oil will help keep US ethylene and polyethylene globally advantaged for at least four years. To take advantage of ethane from adjacent shale-gas deposits : Nova Chemicals Corp., which was bought by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in 2009, signed a memorandum of understanding for the supply of ethane from Caiman Energy LLC's Fort Beeler Plant near Cameron, West Virginia, in the Marcellus Shale Basin, Bayer AG mulls building a steam cracker on company sites in West Virginia using ethane from adjacent shale-gas deposits, Chevron Phillips received preliminary approval in December from Texas regulators to reopen a cracker shut in 2008 at its Sweeny complex, Eastman Chemical Co. is opening a mothballed cracker in Longview, Texas, on low cost competitive advantage, Dow plans to use 30% more ethane, a component of natural gas, at its Gulf crackers.
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