The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

U.S. Manufacturing, Chemicals, Plastics <3 Fracking

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 2, 2013

Our energy renaissance – largely due to development of America’s enormous shale reserves with hydraulic fracturing – can generate good-news stories virtually every day. At the start of the gift-giving season, here are a few of those stories that underscore the opportunity we have in this country to take greater control of our energy future while creating jobs that can lead to better futures for American workers and their families.

surpassing_russiaMcClatchy Newspapers’ Sean Cockerham has this piece detailing the surge in U.S. oil production, thanks to fracking. He writes:

A surge in U.S. oil production has in just a few short years propelled the United States from a country largely dependent on oil imports to one that soon could become the world's top oil producer. The goal of North American energy self-sufficiency, the holy grail of American politics since the Arab oil boycott of 1973, seems to be within grasp.

And:

… the benefits of the U.S. fracking bonanza offer powerful arguments in its favor. They include resurgence in American manufacturing and a reshaping of U.S. relationships around the world, where America's thirst for oil has long been blamed for interventionist policies in the Middle East and elsewhere. The surge has also played a role in keeping U.S. gasoline prices under control. The boom is returning places like Pennsylvania and Ohio to their historic roles as centers of the oil and gas industry, while production skyrockets in unexpected places like North Dakota. … How far that boom might go is still anybody's guess. Many states contain rock formations that are ripe for fracking, including California, which once was at the center of the U.S. oil industry and could be so again.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram picks up on the lift the shale energy revolution is reviving industries everyone thought might be beyond resuscitation. Reporter Kevin G. Hall writes about the resurgence in manufacturing  and rail transportation in Lackawanna, N.Y.:

This rust-bucket town near Buffalo is a perfect example of the transformation that fracking has brought to American business, where new life has been breathed into manufacturing and railroads even as much of the economy lumbers along. On land that three decades ago bustled with thousands of steelworkers, then lay fallow for years when America’s steel industry went bust, a new business now thrives: Welded Tube USA, whose parent company is Canadian. In September, the new Lackawanna plant started making steel pipes for companies that drill for natural gas and crude oil. In its first year, Welded Tube plans to make about 100,000 tons of steel pipe used to push deep below the surface in search of oil and natural gas. That’s more than five Eiffel Towers annually on a single shift.

The business bonanza in the Empire State is pretty ironic – given the seemingly endless moratorium on hydraulic fracturing there, wrought by state leaders. Yet, even with New York’s ban on fracking inside its borders, fracking elsewhere is providing economic lift to the state as companies there send steel and other products to Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states where shale development is allowed. Oil and natural gas production has broad reach. Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner told the newspaper:

“I think almost every state has something tied to the energy boom. Even states that have practically no energy sector are seeing some benefit from it. I think it has the potential to be the type of game-changing event that shapes the economy for the next quarter-century.”

The chemicals and plastics industries love fracking, reports Marketplace.org:

… the U.S. is now one of the cheapest places on earth to make plastic. Chemical companies are expanding plants that make ethylene and fertilizer, or building new ones. “It is a huge deal,” says Joe Chang, global editor of ICIS Chemical Business. “It’s a great amount of expansion, all based on the premise that you’re going to have these low-cost natural gas feedstocks for some time.” Chang estimates the industry will expand in the U.S. by a whopping 38 percent in the next few years.

Indeed, Bloomberg.com reports that Plastics Group, Asia’s largest chemical producer, is working on plans for a $2 billion expansion of its operations in Texas – because affordable natural gas increases the competitiveness of production in the U.S.

To be sure, there are more stories like these. Home-grown American energy means more jobs, investment and more energy. With pro-energy development policies in place the benefits of U.S. oil and natural gas from shale – through fracking – can spread and grow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.