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Environment & Energy

Northeast Ohio Could be Looking at a New Economic Boost from Underground

Drawing of Shell cracker plant
Shell Cemical website
Proposed Shell Cracker

The Utica Shale drilling boom that’s been fading of late in northeast Ohio may be getting an international boost.

photo of ship carrying ethane
Credit INEOS/AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY
/
INEOS/AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY
INEOS vessel shipping ethane from TX and PA to Europe

Ethane is critical for making things like polymers, plastic, and paint. It’s also a companion product from natural gas wells--and wells in Ohio’s Utica shale are typically rich with it.  

A U.S. Energy Information Administration report finds the country is now leading the world in an international export market for ethane.

University of Akron economist Amada Weinstein says that might mean a resurgence of drilling.  And it may convince companies thinking about building multi-billion dollar chemical processing facilities known as crackers to go ahead and do so. “Yes.  So basically, if prices are going up for these petrochemicals for polymers then they have even more incentive to build these cracker plants being built in Pennsylvania and other places.”

According to state figures, there has been in excess of $63-billlion in investment in shale development in the Ohio since 2011.