Pittsburgh Chemical Day heralds industry return
By Tim Puko
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
The chemical industry in Western Pennsylvania is back from a near-death experience with exciting times brought by the shale gas boom, businessmen said on Tuesday.
Major companies are benefiting from a cheap supply of raw materials, while small companies have been able to provide chemicals to the drilling industry and are hoping to work with the expanding major companies.
“It's actually a new chemical industry that's being created — in addition to what we already had,” said Donald Hart, a chemical distribution company salesman who organized speakers at Tuesday's Pittsburgh Chemical Day, Downtown. “It's huge.”
About 400 attended the 45th annual conference, celebrating the influx of natural gas, including ethane and propane, creating new business around the region and for companies based here.
The rising tide for local companies mirrors the stunning rebirth of the industry that's happened across North America in the past five years, national experts said. Previously, the cost of raw materials and labor was closing down many companies that couldn't compete.
Pittsburgh's rebirth started a little more than five years ago with boutique companies supported by talent from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, Hart said. The growth of the domestic energy industry — for which Western Pennsylvania is a hotspot — soon followed, changing everything.
The next big hope is an ethane processing plant that the chemical arm of oil giant Shell may open in Beaver County. Those types of plants can support another 50 plants that work with the raw plastics it creates, Jim Crews, vice president of northeast business development for MarkWest Energy Partners LP said.
That plant is likely to benefit any company that makes milk bottles, PVC pipe or vinyl — like Veka Inc. in Beaver County or across the border at Century Container Corp. in Ohio, Hart said. More new companies are likely to follow, he added.
Even without the cracker, there's new business all around, leading to record years for some companies, businessmen said. Kroff Inc. started as a fundamental water treatment company, doing work for traditional industrial companies, said Kevin Flaherty, an account manager at the Kroff's Well Services unit.
The company has broken into several divisions, specializing in treating water from drill sites, which is about 70 percent of Flaherty's work, he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers safety Polamalu finds himself in tough position
- LeBeau wants to come back as Steelers defensive coordinator
- Kovacevic: A great day to appreciate No. 68
- Man wounded in Mt. Lebanon apartment shooting
- Pitt’s Donald sweeps Outland, Bednarik awards, named All-American
- Power play, penalty kill help put Penguins on another 100-point pace
- Penguins notebook: Popularity with female fans brings test event to Consol
- Pirates claim 3 pitchers in minor league Rule 5 draft
- South African sign language snafu baffles Pittsburgh-area interpreters
- Discovery of mummified body in Bellevue under investigation
- Judge allows evidence in case against New Ken-Arnold teacher