June 28, 2017

HAVE YOU HUGGED A FRACKER TODAY? Even Shale’s Secondary Effects Are Staggering.

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling have given American companies access to vast new reserves of oil and gas, and have dramatically increased the production of hydrocarbons here in the United States. Since 2010, the U.S. has added roughly 5 million barrels of oil per day, and natural gas production is up roughly 33 percent over that same time period.

The effects of this energy revolution have been felt the world over—they’ve brought gasoline prices down for American drivers while remaking the global oil market. But here in the U.S., they’ve been an enormous boon to an industry most Americans are likely unfamiliar with: petrochemicals. As the WSJ reports, cheap petrochemical feedstocks (a byproduct of oil and gas drilling) are pushing the U.S. petrochemical industry to new heights. . . .

That’s a lot of money, and it’s a staggering number of jobs. This is one of the unheralded consequences of this new energy renaissance that the U.S. finds itself in, and it’s creating a rosier economic outlook for years to come.

This big win for America has also produced a number of losers, namely Middle Eastern petrostates who in years past had looked to petrochemicals as an important industry to help them diversify away from simply pumping and exporting crude oil and natural gas. But thanks to cheap shale-sourced petrochemical feedstocks, the lion’s share of new investment money in the industry is heading the United States’ way. Once again, shale is lifting the U.S. up even as it puts petrostates in peril.