Natural gas development continues to generate more opportunities across Pennsylvania for manufacturing growth and innovation as companies such as Shell, Siemens and Lanxess realize the benefits of doing business here.
“It’s in nearly every single consumer product we touch today,” including steel, glass, plastics, pharmaceutical medications, powdered metals and fertilizers, MSC president Dave Spigelmyer told the Indiana Gazette recently. “Today, 1 in 3 electrons is generated through … natural gas.”
These natural gas building blocks are making our region an increasingly attractive place for job creation and investment. Driven by the competitive advantage that the London School of Economics says natural gas development brings, those investments are driving job-creating opportunities across the Commonwealth.
“We want manufacturers to see Pennsylvania as the smart business decision to invest, hire and expand here in the state … and this is where energy can be the key differential that opens up a century or more of prosperity, growth and job opportunities,” Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association president David Taylor said this week during an event in Lehigh County.
In Beaver County, natural gas development is helping to generate thousands of construction jobs, with the potential for thousands more. Leaders in Potter Township this week approved permitting for Shell’s multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant that will convert ethane into the main ingredients of most household plastic products.
As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported from a meeting attended by supporters who carried signs reading “Family Supporting Jobs for Beaver County” and “Environmentally Responsible Growth”:
Shell will also build a natural gas power plant, three pipelines — for ethane, natural gas, and nitrogen — a rail yard, and several buildings….
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018 and will employ about 6,000 workers at its peak, Shell has said. When operational, the petrochemical complex will have 600 permanent employees.
In Tioga County, natural gas development is generating innovation. Siemens Power & Gas this week announced it commissioned its first micro-scale system for producing on-site liquefied natural gas (LNG) near Mansfield. The new, modular technology allows for more local distribution of LNG to regional transportation and manufacturing customers.
“This project demonstrates our unique capabilities to deliver innovative solutions for oil and gas applications that help our clients maximize the value of their assets,” said Michael Walhof, sales director for Distributed LNG Solutions at Siemens’ Dresser-Rand business.
And in Philadelphia, natural gas development is generating global investment. In September, German chemical giant Lanxess bought Pennsylvania-based manufacturer Chemtura Corp. Lanxess CEO Matthias Zachert this week told the Wall Street Journal that American resources like natural gas will attract even more job-creating investment here.
“Our goal clearly is expanding in the U.S.,” said Mr. Zachert. U.S. reindustrialization—fueled by cheap raw materials—is the main reason that “not only we, but many other companies, have suddenly become active in America,” he said.
As Dave Spigelmyer told the Indiana Gazette, such investments are likely just the beginning.
“I think we’re at the tipping point of Pennsylvania having extraordinary downstream manufacturing opportunities emerge for our region,” he said. “We’ve written the obituary for manufacturing for four decades in Pennsylvania. I think today we’re at the doorstep of writing a new birth announcement for manufacturing in our region because of the fact we have affordable and abundant natural gas resources that we felt we didn’t have just 10 years ago.”