Business Briefs for Dec. 26

Reports note impact of natural gas finds

Stories in Wednesday’s editions of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times illustrate the importance of new domestic discoveries of natural gas and their impact on the U.S. and global economies.

A story in the Times says high energy costs have Europeans rethinking costly clean-energy initiatives that have hurt the continent’s ability to compete with other manufacturers. The story cites BASF, which is building a new plant in Louisiana because of Europe’s higher energy costs.

“We Europeans are currently paying up to four or five times more for natural gas than the Americans,” Harald Schwager, a member of the executive board at BASF, said last month. “Energy efficiency alone will not allow us to compensate for this. Of course, that means increased competition for all the European manufacturing sites,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Journal reports that Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and a critic of unlimited exports of liquefied natural gas exports from the United States, will chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Liveris described an Obama administration report saying LNG exports would help economic growth as “fundamentally flawed” and repeated earlier assertions that unlimited exports would threaten jobs and billions of dollars of manufacturing investments, according to the Journal.

Liveris worries that U.S. manufacturers will be hurt if cheap natural gas that could be used to make fertilizer or plastics is shipped overseas.

“I want to make sure we look for the opportunities … to the greatest extent possible, to export value-added products rather than the raw material,” the senator said in a recent interview.

“Natural gas is a strategic American advantage,” he added. “We’ve got it. The whole world wants it.”

Syntroleum disputes patent infringement

Syntroleum Corp., part owner of a renewable fuels plant in Geismar, is facing a second patent infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Delaware.

Both lawsuits were filed by Neste Oil Oyj, relating to processes involved in making diesel fuel or diesel-range hydrocarbons.

Syntroleum issued a statement saying the company has not infringed any of Neste’s alleged patent rights.

Syntroleum said it will continue to vigorously defend itself against Neste’s allegations.

Syntroleum owns half of Dynamic Fuels LLC, which operates the Geismar plant. The facility converts animal fats into fuel and is now making commercial-grade jet
fuel. The plant can produce
75 million gallons of fuel per year.

Compiled from Advocate

business staff reports