US: GAS DEMAND GROWS
Relatively low prices of natural gas have contributed to steady increases in US industrial gas consumption since 2009, especially as a feedstock for chemical production.
According to the US Energy Information Administration's most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook, growth in US industrial demand will continue through 2015, with consumption averaging 21.3 bcfd in 2014 and 22.1 bcfd in 2015, a 4% increase, boosted by newly proposed chemical plants.
Two methanol plants are set to begin service this year—a small facility in Pampa, Tex., and another in Geismar, La. A handful of fertilizer plants have begun service, and an expansion is planned at a plant near Beaumont, Tex., later this year.
Continued growth in industrial demand is also supported by two large facilities coming online in 2015, a methanol plant in Clear Lake, Tex., and a fertilizer-urea plant in Wever.
"Many plants are on the Gulf Coast, but proximity to shale development in the Marcellus, Bakken, and Niobrara areas have led to proposals for facilities outside of Texas and Louisiana," EIA said.
Abundant gas in the Bakken shale falls in the spectrum of developments. Two ammonia-based fertilizer plants are proposed for North Dakota for 2018. Farm-owned cooperative CHS Inc.'s proposed plant in Spiritwood and Northern Plains Nitrogen's proposed plant for Grand Forks are both in permitting stages. Both have expected production of 2,400 tons/day of ammonia and would use close to 100 MMcfd of gas each, according to Bentek Energy estimates.
While most of the proposed methanol plants are on the Gulf Coast, two are proposed for 2018 in the Pacific Northwest. Northwest Innovation Works, a Chinese company, is planning two methanol facilities on the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. The company hopes to export methanol produced in the US to Asian markets.
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