When I think of a stream, I imagine playing as a child in a winding waterway through the woods, splashing friends with cold water and trying to catch tiny fish with my bare hands. Now, as an intern with Bravo Group, I have been exposed to a different meaning for this childhood pastime.
Upstream. Midstream. Downstream. Knowing these terms has been vital to my understanding of one of Bravo Group’s clients, the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council (PCIC). Thankfully, Jeff Logan, Bravo environmental and regulatory practice lead and the president of PCIC, came to my rescue and helped me place value on these words.
Under Bravo’s management, PCIC serves as an advocacy organization for members of the Pennsylvania chemical industry. Members such as Sunoco, Dow Chemical and Shell Oil Company rely upon the council’s representation as a voice in Harrisburg for advocating and keeping up to date on the latest legislative action in the industry, especially with regard to environmental policy and regulations. PCIC connects members of the industry through training, networking, consulting, webinars and environmental safety education.
As a college student with little background knowledge on the subject, I was confused about what linked the natural gas industry to the chemical industry. Chemical companies earn a large part of their revenue by producing chemicals, of course, but also in their production of plastics, fertilizers and vinyl. As it turns out, this production requires huge amounts of energy and natural gas including ethane. Getting to the plastic end product, for example, requires the stream.
Upstream references the drilling companies who take the gas out of the ground so that midstream pipelines can transport the gas downstream to end users who convert that resource into product. The members of PCIC are typically these downstream users who require the natural gas to create their products.
This explains why Shell Oil Company is thrilled about the cracker facility set to be built in Beaver County. Cracker plants, in simple terms, crack ethane gas to convert it into ethylene, a main building block for plastic manufacturing. The plant will have a great economic impact on the region due to a high amount of job creation, as many as 600 new jobs when completed, and the revenue, approximately $5 billion, that will be generated. The investment in the cracker is driven by the fact that natural gas is expected to remain cheaper than oil in the coming years, further elevating the profits that Shell and chemical companies in Pennsylvania can expect to gain.
In the end, the Pennsylvania chemical industry benefits from representation by PCIC. As for me, I’ve grown from a small girl playing in a stream to understanding how the stream affects the landscape of Pennsylvania’s economic development and the success of chemical companies across the state.
Gwen Poillucci, Pittsburgh
As chemical makers balk at new plants, earnings stand to rise. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2016, from http://thestream.bravogroup.us/spotlight/as-chemical-makers-balk-at-new-plants-earnings-stand-to-rise-485069
Shell moves ahead with ethane cracker in Beaver County. (2016). Retrieved June 16, 2016, from http://triblive.com/business/headlines/10592709-74/shell-company-announced