The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Shale Energy Potential – and Reality

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 29, 2012

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Quality secretary and its energy executive have this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, citing a pair of studies that say the amount of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale may be far greater than any previous government estimate:

"This is good news. Real American energy security and a real force in American job growth are available to us right now – if we continue to make the right decisions to obtain and use what we have right here. Both studies confirm that Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation is the global superstar of natural gas formations. The Marcellus Shale will help make Pennsylvania the energy capital of the nation and spark the rebirth of our petrochemical and manufacturing base."

While they’re talking about shale natural gas’ specific impact on Pennsylvania, we know the vastness of America’s shale potential extends to other states, other regions. That was the thrust of last week’s IHS Global Insight study on the jobs, economic growth and government revenue that could result from safe and responsible development of unconventional oil and natural gas.

A couple of examples of how that potential already is being realized. This article details the way abundant natural gas is being eyed as a source for motor fuels:

A Chesapeake Energy-backed company and Oxford Catalysts Group are planning U.S. factories to make diesel, gasoline and jet fuel from gas, which fell to a decade-low price this year. Their goal is to make motor fuels more cheaply and easily than oil-based products produced at giant refineries, and all within two years. … 'It's going to happen in North America,' Roy Lipski, chief executive officer of Oxford, England-based Oxford Catalysts, said in an interview. Turning gas into liquid fuels 'is the flip side of the coin to fracking for shale gas, because what are you going to do with all the gas?'"

Then there’s this story about revenues for local governments in Pennsylvania, generated by drilling fees:

"Local officials across the state are confronting the same question: how to spend their share of the $204 million generated by the impact fee, which was enacted earlier this year. For some jurisdictions, the fee income is substantial. Bradford County on the state's northern border, home to some of the state's most intense drilling activity, will receive $8.4 million, the largest share for a county."

The report notes the “dilemma” of William Groves, chairman of the board of supervisors of Cumberland Township in Greene County, in the southwestern part of the state:

"Groves favors buying a tractor and a new pavilion for 30-acre Wana B Park, so named because the donor of the land said the property wanted to be a park. The supervisors held a workshop (recently) on how to cope with their good fortune. 'We knew we were getting a large bit of money, but not this much,' said Groves, 70...'It is certainly a pleasant challenge.'"

Again, just a couple of examples of how shale energy potential has become reality. If we want to see more stories like these we need to get the right policies to foster continued safe and responsible development. That means embracing hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which have turned energy from shale into an energy game-changer for America.

National leadership from Washington will play an important role – determining whether we’ll have an approach that encourages investment and development or one that chills them. The question is part of the current presidential debate, especially in energy-rich states like…Ohio. The right leadership will implement policies built on a common-sense regulatory structure that recognizes the primacy of efficient and responsible state oversight. It also will develop fair and stable tax policies that promote investment, while recognizing this important point: Oil and natural gas are today’s energy and tomorrow’s.

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.