Shale, gas create jobs in Ohio

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Drilling and fracking natural gas wells is only part of the picture when it comes to the Utica and Marcellus shale industry supporting nearly 39,000 Ohio jobs in 2012.

In fact, a new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy shows that increasing extraction from these formations could be responsible for as many as 266,000 jobs in the Buckeye State by the year 2035. Much of this growth could happen in Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Monroe counties. Gas and oil producers like XTO Energy, Gulfport Energy, Hess Corp. and Chesapeake Energy continue fracking wells in these counties, while processing companies like MarkWest Energy, Caiman Energy and M3 Midstream build plants across the countryside.

“Whether it be equipment for pumping, filtration stations, collection systems or separating liquids from gas, we are trying to find supply chain pressures where existing suppliers largely in and around Texas have excess demand so Ohio companies can become a part of the value chain,” said Dave Karpinski, vice president and director of energy enterprise for the Northeast Ohio Regional Nonprofit Technology-based Economic Development group.

A new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy shows that Marcellus and Utica shale drilling is now supporting 39,000 jobs in Ohio and 11,800 jobs in West Virginia.

The analysis also shows that in 2012, the industry directly or indirectly contributed about $4.1 billion into Ohio’s economy, or gross state product. By 2035, the total value added to the state’s economy will be more than $35 billion, the information states.

As mentioned in the study, institutions of higher learning such as Belmont College and Eastern Gateway Community College are working to train Ohio’s labor force to work in the oil and natural gas business.

“Additional training is being developed for truckers, welding, mechanical engineering and oilfield safety and orientation,” the study states of activities in Ohio.

For West Virginia, the study shows that drilling and fracking is already responsible for 11,800 jobs, a number that could grow to 29,000 in 2020 – and 58,000 by 2035. In addition, shale energy development will generate $283 million in state and local government revenue in 2012 alone and could be generating $884 million a year by 2020 alone in the Mountain State.

“Shale energy is a game-changer for America and for West Virginia,” said Karen Harbert, president and chief executive officer of the Energy Institute. “The latest installment of this study allows us to quantify just how significant the impact on West Virginia’s economy will be. It provides all the more reason to strongly support responsible shale energy development.”

Drillers like Chesapeake, Chevron, Stone Energy, Gastar Exploration, EQT Corp. and others continue developing assets in West Virginia, while processing companies like MarkWest, Williams Partners and Dominion Resources construct increasingly more infrastructure across the northern portion of the state.

“West Virginia has a proud history of producing energy, which benefits both our state and our nation,” said Steve Roberts, president and chief executive officer of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “The hundreds of millions in state and local government revenue will support investments in education, infrastructure and public safety, and the tens of thousands of jobs will provide income to families across our state.”

Another way the shale industry can invigorate the economies of Ohio and West Virginia is by providing feedstock for chemical companies. Global oil giant Royal Dutch Shell hopes to build a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker at a site in Monaca, Pa., which would be located close enough to Ohio and West Virginia to draw ethane from these states.

Also, Aither Chemical hopes to build an ethane cracker near Charleston.

An ethane cracker processes this natural gas liquid into ethylene, which is a building block for manufacturing items such as plastic bags and antifreeze.