Shale Boom Saves U.S. Petchem Industry – Shell Cracker “2nd Wave”

A decade ago the petrochemical industry in the U.S. was in the toilet–in the midst of a downturn. Plants were leaving our shores, heading to other countries. And then the shale revolution hit full force–and changed everything. Petrochemical plants and investment is now skyrocketing here at home, because of shale. Petrochemicals are chemical products derived from petroleum (i.e. oil) and natural gas. The entire plastics industry comes from oil and gas–you knew that, right? Ethylene (which comes from ethane) and propylene (which comes from propane) are used to make polyethylene and polypropylene respectively–that is, plastics. And plastics are used in just about everything you touch, live in, ride in, etc. Plastics make modern life possible. Without plastics, we’d be back in the Stone Ages–living short, brutish lives. Ten years ago our petrochemical industry was flailing, but today it’s thriving. According to an expert speaking last week at Pittsburgh Chemical Day (an annual event), the Shell ethane cracker now under construction is in the “the second wave” of ethane crackers. According to the same expert, we are witnessing the “biggest buildup in the U.S. petrochemical industry we have ever seen.” And it’s all because of shale…

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