We have this sense that the global economic tectonic plates are shifting before our very eyes. America the land of cheap energy and the new efficient production frontier?
America’s steel industry, for decades a symbol of industrial decline, is betting on natural gas to make it more competitive against foreign producers.
U.S. Steel and Nucor the two largest U.S. steel producers, are changing their traditional manufacturing processes as relatively cheap domestic natural gas supplies become more plentiful. Some experts believe the new techniques will not only allow steelmakers to cut costs and lower selling prices at home, but also give U.S. companies a chance to compete with Japanese, South Korean and European rivals for a slice of the export pie.
Several other U.S. industries are also affected by lower natural gas prices. Natural gas fuels approximately one-quarter of U.S. electricity generation, an amount that is expected only to rise as the country moves to decrease dependence on coal. Natural gas is also used as a base material for numerous manufacturing operations in the petroleum, plastics and chemical industries, and anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent of these operations’ expenses can be attributed to natural gas costs.