IOGA’s Mike McCown Talks about Marcellus Drilling and the Future of Energy in West Virginia

Mike McCown, president of the Independent Oil and Natural Gas Association (IOGA) in West Virginia, was interviewed by the Register-Herald (Beckley, WV). IOGA represents some 600 oil and gas companies throughout WV, including those drilling in the Marcellus Shale in that state. Among Mike’s comments:

“Marcellus shale formation is a very prolific formation that’s being developed with horizontal drilling, primarily in seven or eight northern counties.”

McCown says drilling in the southern part of the state is not economically feasible:

“It [the Marcellus Shale layer] starts to thin out around Charleston,” he says. “It becomes so thin it’s uneconomic.”

However, conventional natural gas drilling still occurs in the non-Marcellus areas of the state and is an important part of the production picture. How big is the oil and gas picture for WV?

Oil and natural gas provide some $70 million in severance taxes and more than $100 million in property tax, with a payroll of some 35,000. Direct employment means jobs that pay $60,000 a year in wages.

McCown says:

“We’re not the size of coal, obviously. But we’re a very viable and important industry.”

Finally, this:

McCown sees a bright future in vehicles powered by natural gas.

For a while, the big push was on ethanol, and even now, with the farmers lobbying intensely, there remains strong support for that, but even Al Gore has realized it consumes more fuel to produce a gallon of ethanol than is made, McCown said.

“Now, we’ve got electric cars,” he said. “Everybody thinks you can just walk up to a parking meter and plug in your car. But you’ve got to realize that power is generated somewhere else, from a coal-fired power plant, or a nuclear power plant. So we’ve got a good story to tell. But we’ve just been slow to taking off.”

*Register-Herald (Feb 21) – Natural gas big, thriving and growing across W.Va.