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U.S. Petrochemical Segment Seeing $100B in New Investment

The cost to produce ethylene in the U.S. is now the second lowest in the world because of low prices for feedstock, power, and fuel, which constitute 65-85% of the production cost, according to a report by the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions. The fact that more than $100 billion in investment is finding its way into the U.S. petrochemicals segment is a testament to the value and affordability of America’s shale gas and ethane supplies.

“The renaissance, so to speak, is spreading downstream from where it’s been and will benefit some different players going forward,” said John England, the report’s co-author. 

North Carolina Passes First of its Kind Coal Ash Law

After the Dan River coal ash spill in North Carolina, which contaminated rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water, public outcry resulted in the passage of the state’s Coal Ash Management Act of 2014. The bill requires Duke Energy to phase out wet ash handling. With the passage of this bill, for the first time all coal ash will be covered by North Carolina’s solid waste laws. Further, when coal ash is used as fill to build up land for large construction projects, measures like groundwater monitoring and liners will be required. 

Water & Wastewater Upgrades Generating Half a Trillion in Revenue

The Water Research Foundation and the Water Environment Research Foundation has released a new study exploring the significant impact the water utility sector has on the U.S. economy. Based on the planned operating and capital investments of 30 public water utilities, the National Economic and Labor Impacts of the Water Utility Sector research project determined that these water, wastewater and stormwater utilities will contribute approximately $524 billion to the U.S. economy over the next decade and will support roughly 289,000 permanent jobs.

Study results show that investments by utilities generate similar job impacts as compared to investments in clean energy, transportation and healthcare. In addition, these investments generate more jobs per $1 million than investments in military spending or personal income tax. The total annual employment impact of the water utility sector exceeds the total workforce of many major cities, including New Orleans, Miami and Pittsburgh and the combined economic contribution by utilities exceeds the gross regional product of metropolitan areas Chattanooga, TN and Santa Barbara, CA. 

Petrochemical Boom at Risk as U.S. Ethane Heads Abroad

“Robust exports could threaten what the American Chemistry Council says are plans to invest $124 billion in new and expanded factories. Exxon says chemical expansions could create 600,000 US jobs in a decade and almost $250 billion of economic output,” Jack Kaskey of Bloomberg reports.

“Most of the ethane used by the chemical industry now comes from Texas and neighboring states. As demand rises, supply will have to be piped farther to reach the Gulf Coast, the center of petrochemical production. Prices will at least double to get ethane from the Rocky Mountains and the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania.”

Global Petrochemical Prices Fell Slightly in August

Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market dropped 1% in August as energy prices fell globally, according to the just-released monthly Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI). The PGPI is a benchmark basket of seven widely used petrochemicals. The August PGPI fell $19 from July to $1,427 per metric ton (/mt) and reversed the increases of the last two months. On a year-over-year basis, petrochemical prices were up 5% from August 2013. 

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