Posts Tagged ‘county’

Washington Co. gets a boost thanks to Marcellus Shale

The strength of Washington County’s economy was again confirmed last week as the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that Washington County had the third highest percentage increase of employment in the entire country

By Jeff Kotula; Originally published on October 16 in the Observer Reporter


The strength of Washington County’s economy was again confirmed last week as the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that Washington County had the third highest percentage increase of employment in the entire country. The bureau determined that between March 2010 and March 2011, Washington County’s employment growth was 4.3 percent. Only two other counties in the U.S. – Elkhart County in Indiana and Ottawa County in Michigan had higher employment growth rates. This is a significant finding and is directly related to the positive economic impact of the Marcellus Shale industry in our county.

We have every reason to feel energized about Washington County’s future as we are at the epicenter of Pennsylvania’s natural gas development. The county was the home to the first Marcellus Shale well and the first horizontal well. We have one of the highest rates of drilling activity and production in the state. With an abundant supply of these natural resources, our county is attracting energy companies every day and this means jobs for our residents.

In Southpointe alone, over 50 energy and energy-related companies have located offices and operations. Companies such as Consol Energy, one of the nation’s largest producers of natural resources, chose Southpointe for its world headquarters and Range Resources, the first company to test modern drilling and completion techniques in the Marcellus Shale, will expand on its already significant presence when it opens its new headquarters in Southpointe later this year. In addition, energy and energy-related companies such as Chesapeake Energy, Rice Energy, UniversalPegasus, Select Energy, Steptoe & Johnson and others have established operations or expanded across our county. While these companies alone are creating jobs and investment, we should not forget the positive secondary effects of the energy industry on our local economy.

New industry also brings new opportunities for local businesses and residents. Many local industrial suppliers, manufacturers, restaurants, hotels, shops and services in our county are all experiencing an increase in business because of the energy industry. New business means new jobs. In addition, our agricultural sector, which is still one of the county’s largest industries, is being re-energized by leasing activities and is re-investing those resources into new equipment and improvements. This translates into new customers for farm suppliers and other businesses that support our local agricultural communities. The natural gas industry has created “economies of shale” that not only provides jobs and economic benefits for those in the energy industry itself, but also for local businesses, services and residents that are experiencing new growth by supporting the industry. All of these new jobs are why Washington County is third in the nation in percentage increase of employment growth, has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the region and why we are now considered “The Energy Capital of the East.”

Washington County is at the center of the largest nonconventional natural gas reserve in the world, and it is up to us to make the most of it. Exploring for and producing clean-burning natural gas in the Marcellus Shale will generate billions of dollars and continue to generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania, many of them in Washington County. With states such as Ohio and West Virginia also looking to capitalize on natural gas opportunities, we must continue to support the industry locally and work with our legislators and business community to insure their growth continues to be ours. In Washington County we do not just believe the energy industry is revitalizing our county and creating jobs, we can prove it.

The writer is president of Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

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A Promising Start: Marcellus Shale exploratory phase

Centre Daily Times
Promising results from exploratory gas wells in Centre County have focused the interest of some energy companies on the area, making it likely the county will see increased drilling in coming years.

County looks to gas for cash

Commissioners consider asking for proposals to drill at Moon Lake Park.

Having witnessed the natural-gas drilling boom both in other counties and for some local residents, Luzerne County officials are considering the windfall potential for county lands.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the county commissioners are expected to approve issuing a request for proposals to drill in a little more than 2,000 acres in Moon Lake Park. They’ll also likely vote on creating a gas exploration task force proposed by Commissioner Greg Skrepenak.

Commissioner Steve Urban said he’s been following the gas progress for about six months and feels now is the time to offer the park lands because surrounding landowners are seeking leases as well.

“People are already interested in the land around Moon Lake, and I’m optimistic they’d be willing to talk to us,” he said. “It’s good to be proactive.”

He said the going rates seem to be between $2,600 and $3,200 signing bonuses per acre and perhaps 18 percent royalties.

Beyond the benefits to the county, he suggested local customers would find a benefit in receiving domestically produced natural gas.

He said the drilling wouldn’t affect plans to construct mountain-bike racing courses there.

Skrepenak said he’d likely support offering the lands for leasing, but said the county should have fully researched the topic first.

“I definitely think we need to take this issue as far as we can,” he said.

The task force would gather information, but also be a source for residents and local companies seeking work with the gas companies, he said. It should be made up of county officials, other public officers and experienced professionals, he said.

The shale drilling has shown to be “recession proof” in Texas, he said, which is why he finds it an exciting consideration. “It is the hot topic,” he said. “It’s been seen as a positive thing for the most part.”

Dave Skoronski, director of the county Geographic Information System/Mapping Department, noted there are promising signs that companies are considering the county. Several companies in related industries have come to his office to buy the county’s map data.

“They’ve been coming, and some people who work at the desk said they were doing gas research,” he said, noting that Burnett Oil Co., Inc., Mason Dixon Energy, Inc. and Elexco Land Services, Inc. have purchased map information.

Panel created

Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak was named to the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Task Force.

The group has been established to identify issues related to exploration and development of natural gas in Pennsylvania and to advise on policy related to those issues. Skrepenak participated in the task force’s first conference call on Sept. 26.

Copyright: Times Leader