Last updateFri, 23 Sep 2016 2pm


Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Water Resources Development Act

The U.S. Senate recently passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 with a broad bipartisan vote of 95 to 3. This legislation not only authorizes critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that drive investment in navigation, flood management, and ecosystem restoration, it provides critical investment to help communities reduce public health risks posed by lead, targets aid to rural drinking water systems, bolsters funding for water technology innovation and jumpstarts an innovative financing program for water infrastructure projects. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives under H.R. 5303. 

Alaska Railroad Prepares First U.S. Shipments of LNG

The Alaska Railroad (ARRC) will demonstrate its ability to safely transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) in intermodal LNG ISO containers from southcentral to interior Alaska during a month-long operational performance project in early fall 2016.

ARRC is the first railroad in the country to obtain permission to haul LNG by rail. In October 2015, the Federal Railroad Administration approved ARRC’s request to move LNG in an eff ort to eventually help meet Alaska’s growing energy needs, particularly in Interior Alaska. 

Oil Price Downturn Proves Less is More for Explorers

The upstream exploration sector is still grappling with the oil price downturn, but new research from Wood Mackenzie indicates that the industry is poised to emerge from the slump leaner, more efficient and more profitable.

Steep cuts in exploration spending for the year have forced high-grading, which has led to enhanced prospect quality. Unconventional plays are becoming increasingly important, attracting 15% of the majors' exploration spend and outperforming returns from conventional exploration since 2013.

Good conventional exploration volumes, together with large adds from unconventionals saw the majors add resources well ahead of the volumes they produced every year from 2011. Resource discovery costs also fell, with the lowest costs recorded in 2015. 

U.S. Specialty Chemicals Market Up for Second Straight Month

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes rose 0.3% in August. This follows a 0.4% gain in July and a 0.3% decline in June. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments monitored, seventeen expanded in August with the largest gains (1.0% and over) in adhesives and sealants, lubricant additives and mining chemicals.

The overall specialty chemicals volume index was off 0.8% year-over-year (Y/Y) on a 3MMA basis. The index stood at 105.0% of its average 2012 levels. This is equivalent to 7.24 billion pounds (3.28 million metric tons). During 2014, Y/Y comparisons were generally in the 4.0% to 6.8% range but since February 2015, they have fallen well below that range as the downturn in the oil and gas sector has affected headline volumes. 

Shale Gas Surge Triggers U.S. Petrochemical Expansion

“The upsurge in U.S. shale gas production has triggered waves of expansion projects for manufacturers of petrochemicals, plastics and fertilizer that are expected to create thousands of long-term jobs and many new revenue sources,” Bloomberg BNA reports.

“Some 268 petrochemical and fertilizer plant projects linked to shale gas, with an estimated investment of $170 billion, are in various stages of study or construction, Kevin Swift, chief economist with the trade group American Chemistry Council, told Bloomberg BNA. At the end of 2010, less than $10 billion in such projects had been announced.” 


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