Recent reports from Standard & Poor’s and ITG Investment Research, showing that the amount of recoverable gas in the Marcellus Shale may be much greater than any previous government estimate, are good news. Energy security and 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. Marcellus Shale will help make Pennsylvania the energy capital of the nation and spark the rebirth of our petrochemical and manufacturing base. Production from Marcellus wells is exceeding expectations, and some of the wells are among the most productive in the world. We already have 240,000 jobs related to our oil- and natural-gas extraction activities. When it comes to production numbers, Standard and Poor’s confirms that this is a “mere drop in the bucket” of the Marcellus’s full potential.
These reports also say that the potential natural-gas liquids recoverable from the Marcellus are proportionally higher than those in any other shale-gas formation. This is terrific news for Pennsylvania, validating Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement that it is exploring the construction of an ethane cracker facility in Beaver County, a project that would account for 10,000 jobs in the construction phase alone.
Also reported is a dramatic and historic change in the direction of the natural-gas trade in America. Net flows have always been from the west or southwest United States to the East. But Pennsylvania became a natural-gas exporter in 2010 and is perfectly located to be the supplier to the tremendous growth markets of the northeastern United States.
This new energy revolution is also being seen in the Philadelphia area. Refineries that were recently pronounced dead have new life — in no small part because of hydraulically fractured domestic oil and natural gas. The result is thousands of jobs (and cleaner air, thanks to the use of natural gas and lower-sulfur domestic Bakken crude oil) at the refineries.
Pennsylvania promotes this development responsibly under its effective oversight authority and comprehensive set of laws and regulations. Through Act 13, Governor Tom Corbett and the legislature have not only enhanced environmental-protection standards but also put in place a per-well impact fee, with an initial distribution of $204 million to Pennsylvania municipalities and commonwealth agencies. From encouraging wastewater recycling to one of the most progressive hydraulic-fracturing-fluid disclosure laws in the nation, the state’s oil-and-gas program ensures responsible, protective development of natural gas. Pennsylvania has more than doubled the number of oil and gas inspectors, who have conducted more than 20,000 inspections just this year.
Every Pennsylvanian is already benefiting from Marcellus Shale. We are determined to keep it that way, and to protect the state’s environment for future generations, as we work toward making Pennsylvania the energy center of the world.
— Mike Krancer is the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Patrick Henderson is the energy executive in the office of Governor Tom Corbett.