Shell puts its faith in petrochemicals to fuel growth

The Shell Norco Refinery. (The Associated Press/Gerald Herbert)

On the east bank of the Mississippi River, around 20 miles downstream from Baton Rouge, The Telegraph reports, sprawls an 800-acre industrial mega-complex.

Since the mid-Sixties, the U.K. newspaper reports, this Louisiana chemical plant has quietly produced millions of tons of the chemical compounds that make up modern life—but that few outside the industry have even heard of.

This is where Royal Dutch Shell completed its largest ever investment in the U.S. chemicals industry last week.

A $700 million project to expand the Geismar petrochemical site fired up for the first time—the largest of its type in the world and one of many in the shale-fueled race to corner the booming industry for petrochemicals.

The Telegraph writes that Shell has earmarked the growing market as one of its major growth priorities as it reshapes its business.

“The petrochemicals business lacks the drama of major offshore oil projects and the charisma of the U.S. shale boom,” the newspaper writes. “But as the world turns towards cleaner transport, oil majors are tapping into the growing appetite for consumer goods—all of which are made from the chemical compounds derived from fossil fuels.

An International Energy Agency report finds that petrochemicals are set to account for more than a third of the growth in oil demand between now and 2030, and nearly half by 2050, The Telegraph reports. Petrochemicals are also poised to consume an additional 56 billion cubic meters of natural gas by 2030.

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