The petrochemical industry in the United States is poised for a “spectacular comeback,” thanks to an abundant supply of feedstock from shale reserves, industry analysts with GlobalData said Monday.
In a 62-page report, the firm’s petrochemical research group asserts that after a decade of low demand, high feedstock costs and the emergence of the Middle East in the production of petrochemicals, the development of several shale plays in the United States has changed the dynamics of the industry.
“The shale plays are steadily taking center stage in the natural gas industry, and so the petrochemicals industry is also hoping for an abundant supply of ethane feedstock in the future,” the firm said. “Drillers in the U.S. are currently focusing on liquids-rich shale plays such as Eagle Ford, Barnett, Bakken and Marcellus, which, in addition to natural gas, provide valuable natural gas liquids (NGL).”
GlobalData said NGL production in the United States increased from 620 million bbl in 2005 to 809 million bbl in 2011. Ethane production rose during that time frame, from 236 million bbl to 338 million bbl. The firm said it expects that trend to continue as drilling in shale shifts to more liquids-rich areas.
Last summer GlobalData reported that the Niobrara Shale had emerged as one of the most promising oil-producing shales in the United States (see Shale Daily, Aug. 15). At the time, the firm remarked over substantial growth in oil production, especially in the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) and Powder River basins.
The report specifically mentions the Dow Chemical Co., Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLC, ExxonMobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell plc and Sasol Ltd. Comments from several Dow officials over the advantages of abundant shale resources supported GlobalData’s findings (see Shale Daily, Dec. 5; Oct. 29; Oct. 25; Sept. 25; Aug. 27).
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