The surge in U.S. natural gas production has led to the construction of gas-fired power plants and a renaissance in petrochemicals, steel, polymers, glass, and ammonia plants.
Wisconsin, which has no drilling activity, has seen a "sand rush." The sand is used as a proppant to hold open fissures created during the drilling process to release the gas. There are already 16 sand mines in Wisconsin and demand for sand drilling now exists in Arkansas and Missouri, too. Georgia has two ceramic proppant factories (an alternative to sand) and more facilities are planned.
Pennsylvania, which straddles the Marcellus shale gas region, won a competition for a new Shell ethane cracker plant with 400 employees. The plant will be the first of its kind in the northeastern United States. Three states competed for the plant, which is expected to play a large role in revitalizing the region.
Ohio's lagging steel industry received a boost when Vallourec & Mannesmann Holdings Inc. announced it would build a $650 million plant in Youngstown to meet demand for drilling materials such as steel pipe. U.S. Steel and Timken also have announced expansions in Ohio. Halliburton, Baker Hughes, and Select Energy Services — all oil and gas service companies — have announced construction of facilities within Ohio to meet the needs of drillers in Ohio's Utica shale play.