Louisiana’s chemical manufacturing sector could be “poised for a booming year,” says Rhoman Hardy, senior vice president, U.S. Gulf Coast, Shell Chemicals and Products.

Louisiana’s industry will benefit from low natural gas prices and rising demand for vehicles and homes and is well-positioned for the transition to a lower-carbon, more sustainable future, according to participants in a webinar hosted today by 10/12 Industry Report and Business Report. But their optimism was tempered by concerns about inflation and companies’ supply chains.

Watch the entire Louisiana Petrochemical Outlook webcast here.

“Our outlook for chemical production is really the best we’ve seen in several years,” says Martha Gilchrist Moore, chief economist with the American Chemistry Council.

Meeting the industry’s customer demands for a lower carbon footprint will require emphasizing efficiency and renewable energy while scaling up existing technologies and developing new ones, says David Yankovitz, chemical practice leader with Deloitte. He says some companies have set up supply chain “war rooms” focused on the three main challenges: supply shortages, labor availability, and transportation and logistics.

According to the speakers:

  • The ACC is expecting basic chemical production to expand about 3.6% this year, Moore says. She expects chemical exports to break records, leading to an industry surplus of $31 billion by 2025.
  • Moore says the industry’s workforce is growing but is still about 1.5% smaller than it was right before the pandemic.
  • Louisiana’s geology is conducive to carbon capture and sequestration projects.
  • Chemical facilities might employ only half as many people in a decade as they do now, Hardy says.
  • Some companies have hired C-level security officers to deal with cybersecurity threats.
  • Emphasizing the industry’s role in the energy transition could be important for attracting and retaining talent.