Building blocks

Global intelligence market projections by the Industrial Info resources periodical anticipate industrial projects to reach in excess of $400 billion this year, breaking all previous records.

This ambitious target features a dramatic gain in natural gas production and the wide-ranging variety of derivatives emanating from this fossil fuel. Included in this projection are at least six LNG export terminals, which will become the basis for shipment of liquid natural gas for export to the world-at-large.

About $288.8 billion of capital and maintenance spending is already on the project books, a $28 billion increase over 2013 plant spending. In addition to the natural gas surge, most of the projects underway encompass oil and gas pipelines, shale fracking production, chemical processing and a major expansion of the long-lagging power industry.

Significantly adding to the anticipated expenditures are Canadian projects, whose $100 billion of startups also are the highest ever for that nation, with an 11% increase over last year. A significant factor in Canada’s forward-looking oil and natural gas expansion is a governmental determination to generate worldwide export sales and become increasingly less dependent on shipping the vast amount of crude oil generated by its Athabasca region (Alberta) tar sands to the U.S. 

Already providing close to two million barrel equivalents of crude oil per day, Canada had previously committed its production to U.S. refineries in the greater Houston and southern Louisiana areas, but Washington’s political foot-dragging on the TransCanada XL oil pipeline has redirected Ottawa’s future planning toward global exports elsewhere.

Even the Environmental Protection Agency’s new CO² emissions standards will not prove a significant deterrent for now due to the long-term transition, obsoleting coal and forcing a larger proportional use of natural gas and renewable power. It does prove the continued disinterest that government agencies have displayed toward economic reality.

What major U.S. oil companies also are counting on, and have been given the hope to expect, are the waiver of crude oil exports, and the anticipated expansion of shale oil and natural gas. This will grow well beyond the less than 10% potential currently anticipated to be available in the U.S.

As a positive and supportive expedient, Industrial Info expects millions of new jobs to be created when and if these expected projects hit their full stride.


Giant energy complex coming to Louisiana

Louisiana, well-known for its refineries, tourism, deep-sea drilling and shrimp-boat fishing, is on the verge of hosting one of the largest industrial convertible energy complexes ever developed by a foreign U.S. investor — Sasol.

This former state-owned oil monopoly, dominant in the South African “apartheid” era, is planning a 3,000-plus-acre energy development infrastructure near a bayou in Lake Charles, La. Capitalizing on the massive volumes of fracked natural gas, as well as the pipelines and shipping capabilities available along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, Sasol, still one of the world’s largest oil producers, is planning an initial $25 billion investment. 

With the state of Louisiana kicking in with an initial $5 billion investment, Sasol is planning conversion processes of natural gas into ethylene, a raw chemical convertible into plastics, paints and food packaging. Sasol also plans to convert this cheap gas into high-quality diesel and synthetic fuel, first innovated by the World War II Nazi war machine as crude oil became increasingly less available to its wartime reverse steamroller.

Even moderate evaluators of this humongous operation, requiring closing 26 public roads, buying out 883 public property lots and hiring up to 10,000 workers at peak construction, will require hundreds of trucks each day once this complex is completed and productive.

Although it may take up to five years to complete this ambitious project, additional billions of dollars will come pouring in. Once it’s numerous objectives are realized, this Qatar-like mega-structure will become a prototype of a monogamous stereotype of fertilizer plants, methanol terminals, polymer plants, ammonia factories and paper-finishing facilities plus other natural gas-based derivatives.

In all, some 66 industrial projects worth $100 billion will be breaking ground over the next five years in Louisiana. This gigantic investment is expected to become the prototype of another $100 billion in projects in which this state’s ambitious plans are hoping to realize a doubling of this once primarily fishing and farming production state’s annual revenues, which currently stand at $250 billion.


Booming shale sector creating jobs

America’s shale energy revolution is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in diverse sectors of the economy that supply construction, equipment, supplies and services to shale energy operations. This boom, according to Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance President and CEO Toby Mack, is making the U.S. manufacturing sector more competitive by reducing energy input costs.

Testifying at a House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing, Mack said the shale supply chain is booming and has created more than 450,000 jobs since the energy revolution began less than a decade ago. 

New research conducted by IHS Global for EEIA indicates this boom will generate consistently rapid growth over the next decade. By 2025, nearly 300,000 new jobs will be created — a 62% increase over 2012 employment in the diverse shale supply-chain industries.

This continued growth will impact all sectors of the shale energy supply sector with jobs added and dispersed across the country in businesses engaged in manufacturing, construction, logistics and services supporting energy operations.

The economic and employment benefits of shale oil and gas development extend well beyond those states with major shale plays. Preliminary IHS Global findings indicate by 2025 better than one of every seven jobs in the supply-chain industries – more than 126,000 in all – will be in non-energy producing states.

Mack concluded his remarks by reminding the subcommittee the shale energy supply chain is a major contributor to the U.S. economy and its nationwide outlook is strong for the foreseeable future.

However, he cautioned that government action restricting shale energy production would undermine the vitality of the entire sector. “Policymakers must protect public health, safety and the environment while pursuing policies that allow the shale energy sector to grow and prosper,” Mack said.


Fracking expansion slowed

Most of the world's developing and developed nations would only dream of the combination of natural resources, consumer demand and commercial/industrial export capabilities possessed by the United States. However, most of the U.S. government-owned land (two-thirds of the country’s near 10 million square kilometers), and half the nation's states have either disallowed fracking or withheld implementing legislation to be approved or negated.

When analyzing the United States’ potential as a whole (and previously low-productivity states, in particular) and the remarkable impact  this new technological fossil-fuel production is having on the economic well-being of this country and it’s less-viably active states, the following emphasizes and analyzes the five-year progress in production at the state level.

The United States’ overall oil production in the past five years has expanded 57%, reaching a current level of 8.5 million barrels per day.

North Dakota’s oil production, previously a barren, mostly agricultural product-generating state, is up more than 400% with another doubling predicted five years from now. It is now providing just more than 1 million BPD and still is growing.

Colorado has found new prosperity with a 127% production increase, while Oklahoma can boast an 84% oil production expansion.

While Texas continues its role as No. 1 oil and natural gas producer along with the nation's leading employment and budgetary strength, California, with the nation's largest potential (Monterrey) shale, is being held back by a top-heavy Democrat assembly and Senate that is so far preventing Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown from moving forward on this incredibly promising employment and moneymaking opportunity in the months ahead.

With the world's Mideast oil arena experiencing increasing turmoil, it is hoped that popular pressure, as expressed at the polls, will impress the executive and legislative U.S. branches with the need to execute the energy development plan presented to this nation.