From black gold to green renewables: The thriving North American energy clusters
Once associated with the gushing wells of the Texas scrublands, the North American energy industry footprint has expanded far and wide.
Even as oil and gas production shrinks due to low prices, access to low-cost shale oil is creating new demand for industrial real estate in energy-rich North American locations, some far from traditional oil markets like Houston.
One growth driver is the increase of chemical and plastics manufacturing. As of mid-2016, these industries have triggered the launch of 268 new manufacturing projects worth more than $170 billion along the Gulf Coast and western Pennsylvania.
Real estate market growth is coming from financially stable oil and gas companies. From a real estate perspective, contraction in the energy sector has an upside for companies that can afford it. One company’s need to unload excess real estate is another’s opportunity to sublease affordable space in a prime neighborhood that appeals to in-demand Millennial workers. Others are renegotiating more flexible lease terms from landlords eager to keep their buildings occupied.
Renewable power generators are also thriving despite the downturn, while changing the landscape along the way. The U.S. renewable energy supply has spiked by 51.4 percent since 2006, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the United States leads the world in wind power generation. Solar panels and wind turbines are popping up across sunny plains and windswept fields in new alternative energy clusters in Arizona, Denver and California. Both office and industrial real estate demand is up in those clusters, driven by renewables equipment manufacturers.
“Today’s North American energy industry map includes many more locations than in the past,” notes Bruce Rutherford, Co-Lead of JLL’s Energy group. “Numerous commercial real estate markets in North America will reap the benefits from the growth of renewable energy. But I wouldn’t count out the shale markets or traditional energy cities—because prices will eventually rise again.”
View the slideshow to see where the traditional and renewable energy companies are shrinking, growing and making an impact in North America.