The promise of vast quantities of shale gas at low and stable prices is sparking a U.S. industrial revival no one could have envisioned only a few years ago. Most of the big-dollar industrial expansion projects planned for later this decade are chemical facilities and gas-to-liquids (GTL) plants; many of the rest are steel mills and other energy-intensive industrial facilities. If all—or even most—of these projects become a reality over the next five to 10 years, gas producers in the big shale plays would benefit from sharply higher demand and the likelihood of higher prices as well. But how many industrial projects will actually be built? Will the forecasted industrial boom turn out to be more of a boomlet? That could happen if several factors converge, like the approval of a few more LNG export terminals, environmental regulations that result in big growth in gas fired generation, and higher natural gas exports to Mexico. Any combination of these factors could result in significant upward pressure on domestic gas prices. In this two-part series we explore the potential for a shale-driven industrial revival.
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