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A variety of N.J. industries hitting the gas to power growth

Linde supplies chemical and manufacturing companies with natural gases and other services.-(COURTESY LINDE)

From its state-of-the-art operations center in Stewartsville, a team of Linde Group staffers coordinates natural gas deliveries throughout North America, and monitors Linde plants from thousands of miles away.

The 24/7 center opened in 2009 after relocating from Bethlehem, Pa., and though it’s no longer in the Keystone State, much of its work is very much tied to the natural gas drilling operations there.

“One of the biggest fundamental shifts that Linde sees is the lower cost of natural gas as a raw material across the chemical and manufacturing sectors,” said Earl Lawson, vice president of energy solutions at Linde North America, in the Murray Hill section of New Providence, part of the Munich-based Linde Group.

Those companies turn to Linde to supply gases and other services. As its clients become more bullish on natural gas, Linde sees opportunity for major growth in the region and the continent.

Linde is one example of the economic spillover effect caused by natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.

Hal Bozarth, executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, said one of the most basic, and most important, benefits his members see is the falling electricity prices that come as generators switch to cheaper natural gas.

The other benefit, Bozarth said, is that cheaper natural gas means cheaper ethane, a byproduct of natural gas that’s used in a variety of manufacturing processes. Ethane is used to make Ethylene, which is used for everything from flooring to car components.

“For years, New Jersey and America have been losing out on new investment in chemical manufacturing because the price of natural gas — meaning ethane — has been too high,” he said.

Bozarth said natural gas can be an equalizer in the global economy.

“From our standpoint, it really is the cost of raw materials and the cost of electricity that makes or breaks whether or not we can be successful,” he said, adding that the regulatory environment is the third major factor.

Jeff Scheininger, president of Flexline U.S., in Linden, said lower electrical bills have made a big difference for him. But he’s also seeing direct benefits as the drilling in Pennsylvania has sparked new demand for his company’s specialty hose assemblies.

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