The In­di­ca­tor: US$160 bil­lion

Alberta Oil - - OBSERVER -

That’s how much money is cur­rently be­ing

in­vested in North Amer­i­can petro­chem­i­cal pro­duc­tion, with more still pend­ing.

Shale NGLs are flood­ing the con­ti­nent with low-cost feed­stock, spark­ing a petro­chem­i­cal re­nais­sance that is work­ing in tan­dem with soar­ing Asian de­mand. At a crude price per bar­rel to nat­u­ral gas price per MBtu ra­tio above seven-to-one, eth­ane crack­ers beat out re­fin­ery-de­rived naph­tha—cur­rently this ra­tio is above 20. And oil prices look set to rise.

Eth­ane has taken cen­ter stage with six new eth­yl­ene crack­ers and eight ex­pan­sions un­der­way that will boost North Amer­ica’s pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity by 12.5 mil­lion tons—38 per­cent—from 2010 to 2020. The U.S. is lead­ing this eth­yl­ene out­put drive, while Canada is fo­cus­ing on crack­ing propane into propylene, with fur­ther con­ver­sion into polypropy­lene plas­tic pel­lets for ex­port by rail from Al­berta. In­ter Pipe­line and Pem­bina Pipe­line are ex­pected to make fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sions on their planned plants in 2017.

NG L frac­tion­a­tion plants, such as this one owned by Key­era in Al­berta’s In­dus­trial Heart­land, are pour­ing shale-de­rived feed­stock into North Amer­ica’s boom­ing petro­chem­i­cal in­dus­try

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