06142021Mon
Last updateFri, 11 Jun 2021 4pm

Chemical Activity Barometer Rises in May

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), an economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council, rose 1.2% in May on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a 1.0% increase in April. On a year-over-year basis, the barometer rose 18.6% in May (3MMA).

The unadjusted data show a 1.0% increase in May following a 0.9% gain in April. The diffusion index reached 100% in May. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for April was revised upward by 0.91 points and the reading for March was revised upward by 0.16 points. The May data are provisional and subject to revision. 


U.S. Natural Gas Generation Sees its First Decline in Years

In the first four months of 2021, natural gas-fired generation in the lower 48 states averaged 3,394 gigawatt hours (GWh) per day, a nearly 7% decrease from the same period in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Hourly Electric Grid Monitor. The decline in natural gas generation during the first four months of this year is the result of higher natural gas prices and increased competition from renewables, and it is the first year-over-year decline since 2017. Overall, U.S. electricity generation during the period increased 6.6% compared with 2020 because of colder winter weather. 

U.S. Ethane Production Expected to Grow

U.S. production of ethane, a hydrocarbon gas liquid (HGL) produced primarily in natural gas processing plants, has grown rapidly since 2013. Production has nearly doubled from 0.95 million barrels per day (b/d) in the first quarter of 2013 to 1.85 million b/d in the first quarter of 2021. In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Outlook, they forecast ethane production to continue to grow in response to a growing U.S. petrochemical industry and rising ethane exports to petrochemical plants around the world, reaching 2.6 million b/d by the fourth quarter of 2022. 

Colonial Pipeline Running Again, Company Paid Ransom

As of May 17, Colonial Pipeline had begun transporting refined products (gasoline, diesel and jet fuel) again at normal levels and was fully operational.

As for the May 7 ransomware attack that caused the shutdown in the first place? The company confirmed that they paid $4.4 million to the criminal group responsible.

“This decision was not made lightly,” but it was one that had to be made, a company spokesman said. “Tens of millions of Americans rely on Colonial – hospitals, emergency medical services, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, airports, truck drivers and the traveling public.” 

Biden Proposes Overhaul for Energy Cybersecurity

In addition to billions in cybersecurity reforms already in the proposed infrastructure bill being discussed in Congress, President Biden signed an executive order last week which would overhaul how the federal government shares information about cyberattacks with the private sector. The order also enforces improved cybersecurity protection practices within the government, Bloomberg reports.

Back in April, the Biden administration began a 100-day effort “to improve the cybersecurity of electric utilities’ industrial control systems. It plans to move on to natural gas, water supply and chemical pipelines, Biden said last week as he responded to the Colonial crisis.” 

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