Total investments in the U.S. chemical industry linked to natural gas and natural gas liquids projects have broken the $100 billion barrier, according to the latest data from the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

As of February 148 projects have been announced, at a total value of $100.2 billion, with over half of the sum coming from companies based overseas. These include plans for new facilities, expansions of existing facilities and process changes to production lines. The ACC estimated that the current rate of investment might result in up to $81 billion in new chemical industry output annually.

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In addition, this investment could create about 637,000 permanent new jobs by 2023, including 55,000 jobs in the chemical industry, a further 314,000 jobs in supplier industries and an extra 267,000 payroll-induced jobs where those hired in the chemical industry will spend their money. The ACC also estimated that an additional 222,000 temporary jobs could be created during the capital investment phase.

Cal Dooley, president and chief executive officer of the ACC, commented that the figures represented an "historic milestone" for the chemical industry of the United States and served as proof of the enormous potential of shale gas as an economic driving force. Because of the abundance and affordability of U.S. natural gas, the country is now a magnet for chemical industry investments, he said.