Natural gas ignites Louisiana boom



Paul Aucoin, Executive Director, the Port of South Louisiana, Louisiana, USA


The Port of South Louisiana is fortunate to sit where it does. Its district sprawls out over 86 kilometres (and three Louisiana river parishes) on the lower Mississippi River with a high concentration of facilities located along its banks that can access 33 of the nation’s states (and two Canadian provinces) via the inland waterway system. Most importantly, its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico allows quick access to international sailing routes. South Louisiana is also an area with the highest concentration of natural gas pipelines in the United States. The synergy of these components is what has consistently ranked the Port of South Louisiana the largest port district in the Western Hemisphere, the top grain exporter in the US, and most recently, the number one energy transfer port in the nation. With low, stable prices on a copious amount of natural gas, it is a crucial element that makes the Port of South Louisiana very attractive to industries looking to locate to the ‘River Region’.

Natural gas production

Since 2008, the US has been the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas after overtaking Russia’s output. In fact, Louisiana is one of the country’s top natural gas producers (providing almost 10% of the overall national figure) due to the output from shale rock formations which were discovered fairly recently with the availability of new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing. According to predictions, Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale–as the rock formations are identified–could hold about 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Another study predicts that there are plenty of deposits in the US to satisfy a century of the current national natural gas demand. Within a three-year period (2011- 2014) the American Chemistry Council counted almost 200 announcements of new chemical plants or upgrades to existing industry in the US, with investments totaling $124 billion. The boom in fracking has driven gas prices to an all-time low. Inexpensive natural gas prices offer prospects such as lower electricity costs, which is a great plus for the manufacturing sector. Other producers use natural gas, instead of petroleum, as a raw material.

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