The United States can help meet rising global chemical demand and, in the process, create new, high-paying American jobs, Steve Pryor, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, said in a keynote speech today at the IHS World Petrochemical Conference. ExxonMobil forecasts that global demand for ethylene, the largest petrochemical building block, will grow by 150 percent from 2010 to 2040, driven by rising prosperity and an expanding middle class in the developing world. With an abundance of chemical feedstock coming from natural gas produced from shale, North America could double its exports of polyethylene, polypropylene and paraxylene by 2025. “The United States can help meet global chemical demand thanks to shale energy, and, in doing so, strengthen the economic prospects of our own middle class,” Pryor said. “Ten years ago, the volume of chemicals traded between regions equaled about 5 percent of global production capacity. Today, it has grown to about 10 percent, and by 2020 will be approaching 20 percent. This globalization comes at an opportune time for the United States, which is emerging as a significant net exporter of chemicals,” Pryor said. Potential U.S. chemical industry investment linked to plentiful and affordable natural gas and natural gas liquids from shale formations has topped $100 billion. This includes ExxonMobil's planned multi-billion-dollar expansion of its Baytown manufacturing complex. “ExxonMobil was an early mover in response to the shale opportunity, and our start-up at Baytown is planned for 2017,” said Pryor. “While recognizing that not all announced capacity gets built, what we are seeing is a recapitalization of the U.S. chemical industry.” Pryor issued a warning about the challenge of a growing shortage of skilled labor. “One manifestation of this shortage is a record escalation in U.S. construction costs. For example, the cost to build a chemical plant in the U.S. Gulf Coast has nearly doubled over the past 10 years,” said Pryor.
Even with 18 million Americans out of work or underemployed, the National Association of Manufacturers reports that two-thirds of U.S. manufacturers are experiencing moderate to severe worker shortages, with up to 600,000 jobs going unfilled.“Skilled jobs like instrument technicians and machinists don’t require a four-year degree in most cases, but they do require math and science skills. That's why ExxonMobil recently partnered with nine Houston-area community colleges in a new program to expand vocational training,” said Pryor. “The goal is to prepare thousands of high school graduates and returning military veterans for skilled jobs in the Texas chemical industry, where the average salary has risen to nearly $100,000 a year,” Pryor said. Pryor said, “By embracing shale energy, the United States can meet the needs of a growing middle class overseas and, in the process, revitalize our own.” To read the full remarks, visit: http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/company/news-and-updates/speeches/the-long-term-outlook-for-chemicals About ExxonMobil Chemical ExxonMobil Chemical is one of the world’s premier petrochemical companies with manufacturing, technology, and marketing operations around the world. The company delivers a broad portfolio of products and solutions efficiently and responsibly, with a commitment to create outstanding customer and shareholder value. ExxonMobil Chemical endorses the principles of sustainable development, including the need to balance economic growth, social development and environmental considerations. To learn more, visit www.exxonmobilchemical.com.