Producers of plastics and resins in the U.S. and Canada have enjoyed strong demand in recent years, as evidenced by total investment exceeding a billion dollars for the past two years in a row. According to Industrial Information Resources (, this segment of the Chemical Processing Industry (CPI) is expected to exceed $1.2 billion for the year from nearly 130 projects, with almost $800 million of that already approved or under construction. Another $360 million remains in some phase of planning, estimating or design, while total dollars for planned and scheduled maintenance turnarounds in this industry segment will approach $100 million by year’s end.

There are approximately 450 plants currently operating in this segment of the CPI in the U.S. and Canada, employing an estimated 96,800 people. Industrial Info is already tracking nearly $1.2 billion in capital and maintenance activity planned to begin construction in 2008 from just 53 total projects. Although planned maintenance turnaround activity is only a small portion of the overall spending in this industry segment, the total investment value (TIV) of reported turnarounds for 2008 already equals that of 2007 from just half as many individual projects. These turnaround events equal a substantial opportunity not only for equipment and service providers, but also for catalyst companies offering the newest and most advanced technology for an aging population of the CPI’s plant using catalyst technology from a decade ago or more.

Here are some noteworthy industrial project trends, as reported by Industrial Information Resources (

  • Pipelines. Over $6.8 billion in proposed pipeline projects are scheduled to begin construction in 2008 in the Southwest U.S. The pipeline projects include crude oil, refined petroleum products and natural gas transmission. Texas represents 40% of the planned projects in dollar value at $2.7 billion spread across 24 projects. Louisiana has 11 projects pending, representing $1.7 billion, and Oklahoma has 10 proposed projects worth an estimated $1.5 billion. The majority of the scheduled construction start-ups for these projects are expected between February and June 2008.

  • Copper mining. The North American copper mining sector, after years of downsizing in the 1990s and early 2000s, has undergone a major consolidation and rearrangement of production capacity. Since 2002, favorable copper demand and commodity prices have driven capacity increases and modernizations at existing copper mines and downstream processing facilities. Grassroots operations are also under development and projects that were unfeasible for years have become feasible.

  • Great Lakes Region. The Great Lakes Region recorded a total of 527 construction and maintenance projects between January and June 2007, worth in excess of $15.1 billion. An additional 572 projects worth $27 billion will break ground between July and December. Leading the spending charge is the Alternative Fuels industry with $8.8 billion worth of ethanol and biodiesel project activity coming up.

  • Northeast Region. A recent analysis of Industrial Info’s active plant database revealed that in the first six months of 2007, $11.5 billion worth of Capital/MRO investments began construction. This is an enormous jump in project activity over the same time frame in 2006, when there were 60 projects with a cumulative investment of just more than $1 billion that got underway.

  • Nueces County, TX. A large concentration of refineries and chemical plants currently are evaluating more than $2.1 billion worth of industrial project spending from 41 major projects in this county, centered around Corpus Christi. Petroleum refining commands almost 50% of the planned project activity.

  • Louisiana. Industrial firms are developing 259 capital and maintenance construction projects representing $10 billion in total investment value in Louisiana, scheduled to begin construction in 2007. This is a 30% increase from the value of project kick-offs in 2006. Projects include oil and gas terminals, petroleum refining, chemical processing, alternative fuels and power plants.

  • Illinois. Illinois has always been a state of great diversity when it comes to industrial spending. Traditionally, spending within the state has hovered around the $5 billion mark annually. However, with the recent boom in Alternative Fuels Industry spending, 2007 is experiencing a jump to $9 billion worth of capital and maintenance projects that are scheduled to begin construction during the second half of 2007. Couple this with the $5.6 billion worth of project activity that began construction during the first half of the year and Illinois will have almost tripled its traditional annual spending by year’s end.

  • Ohio. 2007 is shaping up to be the best year since the turning of the millennium in terms of total spending, provided the projects that are currently scheduled to begin construction between July and December actually break ground. In the first half of 2007, more than $5.4 billion worth of project activity began construction, and to date, an additional $4.9 billion is expected to be added to that total. The boom in the development of Alternative Fuels processing plants, which has greatly benefited not only the state of Ohio but also the entire Great Lakes region, is, in part, responsible for the increase in spending in 2007.