The U.S. steel and chemical industries are among those benefiting from natural gas production.
Ken Silverstein is editor-in-chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Contact him at email@example.com.
Not many years ago, the U.S. steel industry found itself losing ground.
U.S. Steel, the country's largest producer, still had billions of dollars in revenue, but had posted large losses for three consecutive years. Meanwhile, China was offering cheaper labor and an abundance of the raw materials used to make steel. As a result, the World Steel Association reported that Chinese production of steel increased 57 percent between 2007 and 2013, while American production during that time period declined by 11 percent.
But then came the domestic shale gas boom, which has put the American steel industry back in the business of making pipes for drilling rigs and new pipelines.
The steel industry's resurrection has been punctuated by developments like U.S. steel titan Nucor Corp.'s $750 million investment in an iron-ore facility in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The company opened the facility in 2013 to strip oxygen from iron ore - an energy-intensive manufacturing process that in an earlier era had left the United States for global regions that could power the plants more cheaply. When fully operational, the plant will be one of the most productive steel-making facilities in the world, generating around 2.5 million tons per year.