Asahi Kasei May Use Shale Gas Instead of Crude Oil
Asahi Kasei Corp. and other chemical makers are exploring the use of shale gas as a lower-cost alternative to crude oil for their manufacturing processes. With gas cheaper than crude oil, industries that rely on petroleum-based materials are weighing a shift to natural gas, Nikkei has reported.
Asahi Kasei will consider establishing production facilities in such locations as North America, where shale gas output is booming, and Southeast Asia, where natural gas is abundant.
European and U.S. chemical firms have taken the lead in tapping shale gas to produce ethylene.
Asahi Kasei aims to compete in the field of commodity-grade plastics for consumer electronics and other items by using its new technology to be more cost competitive. The company is now the world's second-largest producer of acrylonitrile. Demand for the material is expected to grow at a roughly 3% pace alongside global population growth.
Meanwhile, Kuraray Co. will build a U.S. plant in 2014 to manufacture plastics used in LCD panel parts and paper additives, with plans to tap ethylene derived from shale gas, Nikkei reported.