The shale gas boom is creating jobs and saving money for U.S. manufacturers.
Ken Silverstein is editor-in-chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Contact him at email@example.com.
In Parkersburg, W.V., where the $32,783 median household incomes sags below the national average, plans are underway to build a refining facility that could create as many as 3,000 new jobs. That's a much-anticipated economic boost in an area desperately trying to keep its young people at home.
The proposed $4 billion to $6 billion project - to be built by Brazil-based Odebrecht Oil and Gas - is one of many across the country that reflect a spark in the U.S. manufacturing sector once left for dead and now revived in part by a shale gas revolution, although the company just said the Parkersburg project is on hold given the low price of oil that can also be used to process feedstocks.
"Shale gas and energy have changed the whole manufacturing dynamic," says Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers. "Just a few years ago, no one would have predicted this renaissance."
For example, chemical production facilities for cracking - the process by which ethylene and other products used to manufacture plastics can be separated out from so-called "wet gas" - are now popping up around the country. Dow Chemical, BASF, CF Industries, among many others, are actively pursuing similar projects around the United States. Such growth is adding jobs and tax revenues to local communities.