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U.S. Chemical Production Declines in February

According to the American Chemistry Council, the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index fell by 0.4% in February, following a revised 0.2% gain in January and a 0.5% gain in December. During February, chemical output fell across all regions, with the largest declines in the Gulf Coast and Ohio Valley regions.

Compared with February 2018, U.S. chemical production was up by 4.4% on a year-over-year basis, an improving comparison. Chemical production was higher than a year ago in all regions, with the largest gains in the Gulf Coast region, reflecting gains in the output at new shale-advantaged plants.


U.S. Gulf Coast Now a Net Exporter of Crude

In the last two months of 2018, the U.S. Gulf Coast exported more crude oil than it imported. U.S. crude oil production, particularly in the U.S. Gulf Coast region, has increased in recent years. In November 2018, U.S. Gulf Coast crude oil production set a new record of 7.7 million b/d. The increased production is mostly of light, sweet crude oils, but U.S. Gulf Coast refineries are configured mostly to process heavy, sour crude oils. This increasing production and mismatch between crude oil type and refinery configuration allows for more of the increasing U.S. crude oil production to be exported.

Nuclear Industry Lobbying for Fewer Inspections

“The nuclear power industry is pushing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to cut back on inspections at nuclear power plants,” The Associated Press reports.

“Commission staffers are weighing some of the industry's requests as part of a sweeping review of how the agency enforces regulations governing the country's 98 commercially operating nuclear plants.”

U.S. Ethanol Exporters to Face More Competition

“United States ethanol exporters are likely to face increased competition in one of the few foreign markets where they have been able to deliver large volumes in recent years, the North and Northeast regions of Brazil,” Hydrocarbon Processing reports.

“Ironically, that competition would come in the form of corn-based ethanol common in the United States, not sugar-based ethanol that has traditionally dominated in Brazil.”

Most New U.S. Power Plants Will be Natural Gas & Solar

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s long-term projections show that most of the electricity generating capacity additions installed in the U.S. through 2050 will be natural gas combined-cycle and solar photovoltaic. Onshore wind looks to be competitive in only a few regions before the legislated phase-out of the production tax credit, but it becomes competitive later in the projection period as demand increases and the cost for installing wind turbines continues to decline.

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