"Natural gas is what has contributed to the U.S. chemical industry – in a period of just about five years – going from a high-cost producer globally to the lowest-cost producer internationally," Dooley said during an interview exploring how shale gas became a "game changer" for the U.S. petrochemical industry.
Dooley pointed to 30 projects in the United States – new facilities and significant expansions – totaling $25 billion in capital investment. These investments are based on confidence that the United States will have competitively priced natural gas for decades, Dooley said.
Asked about natural gas costs and U.S. competitiveness, Dooley said the crucial factor is the difference between the price of natural gas and a barrel of oil. Most U.S. chemicals are derived from ethane, which is found in shale gas, while international competitors rely on a more expensive, oil-based raw material, Dooley explained. With global oil prices at more than $100 a barrel and gas at $2, the U.S. petrochemical industry now enjoys a 50 to 1 price advantage over its global rivals "and we see that competitive balance being sustained for an extended period of time," Dooley said.
The chemical industry drives the manufacturing sector. Ninety-six percent of all U.S. manufactured goods rely on chemistry. And a good part of those are derived from natural gas. "It's a fundamental building block of almost every manufacturing item that a consumer touches every day."
Platts Energy Week is part of the W*USA TV's Sunday Power Block lineup of respected news and information programming, including CBS Sunday Morning, Face the Nation, This Week In Defense News and The McLaughlin Group.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $720 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is one of the nation's largest exporters, accounting for ten cents out of every dollar in U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation's critical infrastructure.