According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, petrochemical capacity expansion projects are projected to increase domestic demand for ethane by nearly 600,000 barrels per day between 2014 and 2018. This is partially because U.S. prices are favorable compared to the international market.

The growing supply of domestic hydrocarbon gas liquids is another factor, as HGL is a primary source of energy in modern civilizations. With this increased production and demand will come increased need for workers and ramped-up operations to supply this growing demand.

Meeting an Increased Demand

The overall increased demand can be attributed to a variety of factors, but price decreases are the most likely. While Middle Eastern oil is still in high demand internationally, the U.S. is competing on a much larger scale than ever before, and this helps spark projected growth beyond current 5-year projections. For example prices for propane are down so processing propane into propylene is becoming a viable business model, and many companies are increasing capacity for propane dehydrogenation plants.

Increasing the Petrochemical Workforce

As each of these petrochemical industry sectors grows, so does the demand for workers. Recent OSHA rule implementations also require these workers to be equipped with appropriate protective clothing to help prevent injury or death from hazardous work conditions.

Ramping up to meet demand without compliance to OSHA and other regulations could prove costly for petrochemical companies. It’s important to ensure all workers are provided with training and the proper tools to increase safety at work during longer hours with a larger workforce, many of whom may be less experienced than normal.

Although alternative energy and fuels are growing in both popularity and availability, our reliance on fuels like natural gas isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, the petrochemical industry is continuing to experience growth worldwide, as more countries become industrialized and consume more fuel.