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December material prices edge down, up 5% for 2017

A too-narrow narrow gap between natural gas and crude oil prices contributed to the decision that South Africa-based chemical and energy company Sasol made to cancel its plans to build a $15 billion gas-to-liquids (GTL) factory in Louisiana next to its $11 billion ethane cracker plant. When those prices do not differ very much, the energy giant said, it’s hard for it to make back its investment. As a result, Louisiana lost out on the investment, jobs and other benefits that the GTL factory would have injected into the local economy.

Natural gas is gaining popularity because it’s considered a cleaner alternative to coal and oil, so many local and regional energy companies are investing in it. In December, the Lansing (MI) Board of Water and Light announced plans to build a $500 million natural gas plant this year to replace an existing coal-powered facility.

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