05262017Fri
Last updateFri, 26 May 2017 2pm

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Oil-Fired Plants Provide Small Amount of U.S. Electric Capacity, Generation

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, roughly 70% of petroleum-fired electric generating capacity that still exists today was constructed prior to 1980. Utility-scale generators that reported petroleum as their primary fuel comprised only 3% of total electric generating capacity at the end of 2016 and produced less than 1% of total electricity generation during 2016.

Of the 36.4 gigawatts of domestic petroleum-fired generating capacity, more than 68% is located in 10 states, primarily in coastal states with access to marine ports. When these plants were built in the 1970s, coal-fired generators were the main sources of electricity generation. However, coastal states like Florida are relatively far from coal production areas. Because coal is primarily transported by rail, the cost of long-haul coal transport by rail may not be competitive in these areas compared with oil delivered by marine modes. 


ExxonMobil, SABIC Agree on Proposed Petrochemical Project

Affiliates of Exxon Mobil and SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) signed an agreement to conduct a detailed study of the proposed Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project in Texas and begin planning for front-end engineering and design work. The agreement was signed during the Saudi-US CEO Forum in Riyadh.

In April 2017, ExxonMobil and SABIC selected a site in San Patricio County, TX, for the proposed petrochemical complex that would include an ethane steam cracker capable of producing 1.8 million tons of ethylene per year, a monoethylene glycol unit and two polyethylene units. The project is one of 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects associated with ExxonMobil’s Growing the Gulf initiative in the U.S. that have been made possible by the abundance of low-cost U.S. natural gas. 

Report Shows Potential for Appalachian Petrochemical Industry

An economic report released by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) shows that the Appalachian region could become a second center of U.S. petrochemical and plastic resin manufacturing, similar to the Gulf Coast.

ACC's report presents a hypothetical scenario that includes the development of a storage hub for natural gas liquids (NGLs) and chemicals (e.g., ethylene, propylene), 500-mile pipeline distribution network and associated petrochemical, plastics and potentially other energy infrastructure and manufacturing in a quad-state area consisting of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. The analysis projects a $32.4 billion investment in petrochemicals and derivatives and a $3.4 billion investment in plastic products, put toward the construction of five ethane crackers and two propane dehydrogenation facilities. 

Nuclear Industry Turning to State Governments for Aid

“Just like coal companies, America's nuclear power industry is having a tough time. It faces slowing demand for electricity, and competition from cheaper natural gas and renewables. And now, touting itself as a form of clean energy, the nuclear industry is lobbying state legislatures with a controversial pitch for help,” NPR reports.

The states of New York and Illinois “recently agreed to give billions in subsidies to the nuclear industry by essentially broadening the definition of clean power.” 

Pulp & Paper Waste Could Lead to New Manufacturing Industry

About 50 million tons of lignin -- or structural part of a plant -- piles up each year as waste from the U.S. pulp & paper industry. Additional lignin could come from biorefineries that use plants to produce ethanol, yielding another 100 million to 200 million tons of lignin waste each year. Yet only about 2% of the lignin waste is currently recycled into new products, according to Dr. Joshua Yuan, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

"Lignin is considered as one of the most abundant biopolymers in the world," he said. "All this waste accumulates, and it will be great to use it for something." 

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