The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Good News Friday: Help Wanted, Shale Boom and New Markets

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 3, 2011

Here's a Friday look at some of the ways oil and natural gas are making life better across the country:

Hey, Minnesota! - The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that North Dakota has 17,000 job openings - most of them related to its booming oil and natural gas and coal mining activities - and is trolling for workers in neighboring Minnesota. "We are in such a wonderful position over here right now," said North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Alan Anderson. "But we have a 3.3 percent unemployment rate. ... So we have to either get some more folks coming back home or get more coming across the state line to share in the opportunities." North Dakota is the country's fourth-largest oil producer, which is driving economic activity in other areas. Hardware stores, big box retailers and apartments are popping up all over, Valley City Development Director Jennifer Feist told the newspaper.

Shale boom - The New York Times takes note of the life-changing nature of the oil shale play in south Texas, doubling real estate values in the last year and filling restaurants and hotels. "That's oil money," said Bert Bell, a truck company manager, pointing to the new pickup truck he bought for his wife after making $525,000 leasing mineral rights around his family's mobile home. "Oil money just makes life easier." The article quotes IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin on shale's potential energy benefits. "This is very big and it's coming on very fast," said Yergin, who also is serving on the Energy Department panel that's studying the hydraulic fracturing techniques used to release oil and natural gas from rock thousands of feet down. "This is like adding another Venezuela or Kuwait by 2020, except these tight oil fields are in the United States."

Changing the game - In Louisiana, the New Orleans Times-Picayune details how the discovery of natural gas in shale rock is turning the industry away from developing dozens of North American terminals for importing liquefied natural gas. Shale discoveries are making it plain that natural gas is going to be more readily available from domestic sources, the paper reports. "As a result, the natural gas industry has started to switch gears," the paper writes. "Rather than developing infrastructure to handle a spike in natural gas imports, the industry is readying facilities that can also be used to export excess fuel to international markets." Observation: About 98 percent of the natural gas we use is produced at home, which means new reserves potentially could allow us to produce more than we can use, hence exports. Export markets for a domestic commodity like natural gas means growth in the domestic sectors (exploration, development, production) that supply those markets - all of which adds up to more U.S. jobs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.