2019 Conference Highlights

Midstream Executive Sees ‘Light At End Of Tunnel’



PITTSBURGH—Natural gas prices are down, demand is weak and renewable energy sources are deepening their penetration in the residential and commercial energy sector, but Ryan Savage, vice president at The Williams Cos. Inc., said natural gas supply must rise to meet demand in the next decade.

Admittedly, “that is difficult to talk about right now,” Savage said Dec. 4.

However, the projected demand of U.S. natural gas commitments to Mexico and LNG exports worldwide will match North American residential and consumer natural gas use by 2025, he said. Exports will eventually have to rise to more than 25 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) from roughly 10 Bcf/d in 2019.

“If you’ve got demand growth like that, then we’ve got to increase supply,” he said.

With more than 20 years in the industry, Savage said he’s seen the ups and downs of prices before, in part because of the exuberance of producers. But the longstanding paradox of the industry is that the “cure” for low commodity prices—oil or gas—is low prices themselves.

Why Shell Headed For The Hills To Position Its Petchem Plant



PITTSBURGH—Polyethylene nurdles are huge.

Not their physical size, which ranges from 1 mm to 5 mm—about the size of a lentil—but in their impact on western Pennsylvania and on the bulk of the U.S. manufacturing segment that produces plastic products.

When Shell Chemicals’ complex in Monaca, Pa., becomes operational sometime in the early 2020s, the massive petrochemical project 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh will be producing billions of them. How big is this project?

  • The cost has been estimated at more than $10 billion;
  • The 2,000-metric tonne quench tower, used to purify ethane before it is further processed, is almost 300 feet tall;
  • The purge bins, which use heat to separate ethylene from inert compounds, are 380 feet tall; and
  • About 7,500 workers are required to assemble the complex.

Maneuvering the largest structures into place required more than a year’s use of Ultrecht, Netherlands-based Mammoet’s PTC 200-DS ring crane, the second-largest crane in the world. Dubbed the Mother of all Cranes (MOAC), the 695-ft monster is nearly as tall as iconic One Shell Plaza in downtown Houston.