How to Turn PA’s $60B Shale Energy Future into Reality Today

One year ago Chevron Appalachia and People’s Natural Gas teamed up to release a study called “Forge the Future: Pennsylvania’s Path To An Advanced, Energy-Enabled Economy” (see Chevron & People’s Natural Gas Team Up to Map Out PA’s $60B Future). Rather than wait around for “someone else” to flesh out a plan to leverage what Chevron and People’s call a $60 billion (!) opportunity in PA, they went ahead and did it themselves. Smart people. That was Phase I. Others have joined the effort which has morphed into a loose organization called PA Forge The Future. The group has just launched Phase II, a new study called “Ideas for Action: Actionable Initiatives to Accelerate Energy-Enabled Economic Development in Pennsylvania” (full copy below).
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List of 29 Marcellus/Utica Gas-Fired Elec Plants Planned or Built

Each large (over 475 megawatts) gas-fired electric power plant is an economic bonanza. The plants cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build–over a billion dollars for the largest plants. They provide hundreds of jobs during construction, jobs that last several years. They provide millions in tax revenue to local municipalities and schools. And best of all, each one of these plants uses an enormous amount of Marcellus and Utica Shale gas. There are 29 of these incredible projects already built or in various stages of planning and construction in PA, OH and WV. We have the list below.
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WV Leaders Discuss “Downstream” NatGas Development

Some 200 business and government leaders in West Virginia attended the state’s Economic Outlook Conference in Charleston this past Wednesday. A key focus of the event was a panel discussion on the topic of “downstream” natural gas development–meaning ethane cracker plants and manufacturing plants to take advantage of the coming flood of cheap plastics from cracker plants. The speakers spoke of urgency, to prevent a generational opportunity from slipping away.
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Shell PA Cracker Already Attracting New Factories…to Ohio

Stark County, OH

The Stark County (OH) Economic Development Board has landed what is hopefully the first (of many) tenants from the plastics manufacturing industry. IML Containers was looking for a spot to locate a new plant near one of their big customers, Land O’Lakes (has a facility in Cleveland). Stark County offered a small tax break, and the big advantage of being close to the under-construction Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County, PA. It’s also close to a likely second cracker plant in Belmont County, OH. IML makes plastic shipping containers for Land O’Lakes, and plans to set up “research and development, die cutting, molding, production and warehousing for packaging use with a variety of food products” at their Stark facility. IML is beginning now, at a temporary location (70 new jobs!) and will build a new plant in the next two years. In addition to a cheap source of plastics from the crackers, another advantage is being located within a six-hour drive of most of IML’s North American customers…
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Ohio Utica Attracts Amazing $70 Billion Investment…So Far

JobsOhio, a private, nonprofit corporation that works closely with the state (works on behalf of the state) to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio by attracting business, has decided it’s time to once again wave the flag, blow the trumpet, and talk about the shale industry in the Buckeye State. And well they should! According to research quoted by JobsOhio, Ohio, largely due to the Utica Shale, has attracted an amazing $70 billion in new private sector energy investments from 2011 to 2017. This is truly stupendous stuff! That’s PRIVATE (non-tax, non-government) money flowing into Ohio mainly because of the Utica Shale. Not only that, but roughly 12,000 high-paying jobs have been created in Ohio thanks to the Utica. Those are “direct” jobs. When you include indirect jobs–such as welders, fabricators and logistical workers–the number goes to 100,000! God bless the Utica. Here’s another fact: Even though Ohio neighbor Pennsylvania produces far more natural gas than Ohio, Ohio’s production (as a percentage) has grown faster than PA, faster than any other state, for four years in a row…
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“Cracker Effect” – Shell Plant Will Create 7,400 Permanent Jobs

Ever hear of the “cracker effect”? No, we hadn’t either. Not until we read about a new study by a husband and wife team from Washington & Jefferson College. The pair studied the economic impact of cracker plants on surrounding communities–some 34 ethane crackers in 16 counties around the country. Most of the cracker plants are located along the Gulf Coast. The purpose of the study is to accurately forecast what will happen with Shell’s new $6 billion ethane cracker currently under construction in Beaver County, near Pittsburgh. What might the real, measurable economic effect be from Shell’s cracker? According to the authors, the Shell cracker will generate ~7,400 permanent, long-term jobs. Crackers not only create new jobs, they boost wages in cracker counties by nearly 13% over counties without crackers. But counties without a cracker plant benefit too. Counties bordering counties with a cracker plant see lower unemployment rates. No mystery there. While the authors alluded to some negatives from crackers, we were hard-pressed to find any! It sure looks like everything is coming up roses with the Shell cracker. The numbers prove it…
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WV Consumers Saved $4B Over 10 Years Thx to M-U Shale

Although the push is on to get Marcellus/Utica molecules to new markets where they can fetch higher prices, there is a group who has benefited in a major way from an abundance of cheap, clean-burning shale gas. That would be the residents and businesses located in West Virginia. Industry group Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) has just published a new report that reveals WV residents and businesses have saved a cumulative $4 billion from 2006-2016 as a result of the decreasing price of natural gas in the state. You may recall not long ago CEA published a similar study for Pennsylvania (see PA Consumers Save $30B Over 10 Years Thx to Marcellus Shale). Yes, PA’s numbers were much bigger than WV’s, but PA has more population (12.8 million in PA vs. 1.8 million in WV), therefore more chances for savings. And PA has more natgas in the ground than WV. But still, $4 billion in savings is nothing to sneeze at! That’s $4 billion in money in people’s pockets that didn’t come from other people’s pockets (via taxes) and got spent on goods and services with a beneficial ripple effect throughout the economy. Here’s the CEA report on the great news that West Virginian’s hit the $4 billion lottery in shale…
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Downstream Chemical Investment Linked to Shale Hits $200 Billion

Earlier this week the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced that U.S. chemical and plastics industry investment linked to plentiful and affordable domestic supplies of natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) from shale formations has surpassed $200 billion. That is a staggering number! Incomprehensible. Since 2010, 333 chemical industry projects cumulatively valued at $202.4 billion have been announced, with 53% of the investment completed or under construction, and 41% in the planning phase. Some 68% of the total is foreign direct investment or includes a foreign partner. Other countries love our shale! As good as all that is, consider this: ACC analysis shows that the $202.4 billion in capital spending could lead to $292 billion per year in new chemical and plastics industry output and support 786,000 jobs across the economy by 2025! Behold the miracle of shale fracking. Here’s the mind-blowing, fantasticly good news…
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Construction to Begin “Immediately” on Columbiana Utica-Fired Plant

In October 2015, Advanced Power Services announced it would build an 1,100 megawatt Utica-fired electric plant in Columbiana County, OH (see New $1.1B Utica-Powered Electric Plant Coming to Columbiana County). The plant, big enough to power 1 million homes (!), was approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board in September 2016 (see $1.1B Utica-Powered Electric Plant in Columbiana Gets State Approval). At the time of the approval, construction was supposed to begin in January 2017 and take some 550 workers about three years to build. Construction never began. A few things have changed along the way. The plant will now cost $1.3 billion to build and will take 1,000 people to build it. How do we know? Because global engineering firm Bechtel has just announced it has been selected to build the plant–and to start building it NOW, as in “immediately.” Yes, it will still take three years to build. The new target in-service date is second quarter 2021. In addition to the plant itself, a new 20-inch pipeline will be built to feed the plant, connecting to the nearby Dominion Transmission pipeline. Here’s the great news that Ohio’s latest Utica-fired electric plant is now under construction…
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PA Consumers Save $30B Over 10 Years Thx to Marcellus Shale

Although the push is on to get Marcellus molecules to new markets where they can fetch higher prices, there is one group who has benefited in a major way from an overabundance of cheap, clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas. That would be the residents and businesses located in the great state of Pennsylvania. Industry group Consumer Energy Alliance has just published a new report that reveals PA residents and businesses have saved a cumulative $30.5 billion from 2006-2016 as a result of the decreasing price of natural gas in the state. Can you imagine the economic impact! What president or governor or state legislator wouldn’t salivate over a cash infusion of $30 billion over ten years! It’s mind-blowing. And it’s all thanks to the Marcellus Shale. And that $30B is just the savings that went into folks’ pockets (and got spent on other things). That number doesn’t even take into consider the billions upon billions of dollars paid out in signing bonuses, royalties, and drilling work done. The Marcellus industry has single-handedly lifted many PA residents out of poverty. Hey, how much revenue and how many jobs and how much energy savings have groups like Delaware Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Clean Air Council, Food & Water Watch, PennEnvironment, PennFuture and other radical Big Green groups generated for PA? What’s that? They’ve actually COST the state money? Think about that the next time you read about these so-called environmental groups and how much they “care” about the Keystone State…
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WV’s Acting Secretary of Commerce is MIA – Hurting Investment?

In an act still befuddling for us, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice fired Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher in June (see WV Commerce Secretary Who Brokered $83B China Deal…Fired). Thrasher took over as Commerce Secretary in January 2017 as part of the new Gov. Jim Justice Administration. Thrasher is “the guy” most responsible for putting together the massive $83.7 billion deal signed by China last November to invest in WV shale and petrochemicals (see China Agrees to Invest Amazing $83.7 BILLION in WV Shale, Petchem). It was the relationships established by Thrasher that led to that deal. So what happened to Thrasher? Why was he fired? It has nothing to do with the China deal. Anyway, Justice appointed W. Clayton Burch as Acting Secretary of Commerce. According to attendees at the recent West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Business Summit, nobody has seen Burch. Or at least, almost nobody. The head of the Chamber had face-to-face meeting with him once. Business leaders and legislators in WV are grumbling that they haven’t seen or heard from Burch since his appointment 80 days ago. It’s pretty obvious he’s just filling in until Justice gets off his derriere and appoints a new, permanent Secretary. The concern is that important projects, like the $83.7 billion deal with China, are suffering. Who will invest in WV if there’s no one to make decisions and propel projects forward?…
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Sen. Pat Toomey Claims Trump Tariffs Will Delay Shell Cracker

US Sen. Pat Toomey

Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senator Pat Toomey is a DC swamp dweller–let’s just be honest about it. He’s a Republican, largely in name only. He’s better than a Democrat–but not by much. Toomey is claiming that President Trump’s attempt to stop the flow of foreign steel dumping in our markets by using tariffs (dumping which hurts our own steel industry and isn’t anywhere close to being fair or free trade), will delay incoming material for the Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County and result in the layoff of “hundreds” of workers. A Shell spokesman neither confirms nor denies Toomey’s claims but uses doublespeak to sidestep the issue–meaning Shell likely asked Toomey to be the front guy in shaming the Trump Administration into granting waivers so they can get their cheap, imported steel. Toomey has been an early and repeat critic of Trump. Toomey opposed Trump’s tariffs from the beginning and is currently trying to get a new law passed stripping the President of his constitutional power to impose tariffs…
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China Official Says $83.7B Deal with WV Still On, Some Progress

Some encouraging words, but also some outright lies, coming from Ling Wen, president of China Energy Investment about China’s planned investment in West Virginia. Wen addressed reporters yesterday in Hong Kong, and some of the conversation turned to China Energy Investment’s 20-year deal to invest $83.7 billion in WV’s shale and petrochemical industries (see China Agrees to Invest Amazing $83.7 BILLION in WV Shale, Petchem). Months ago we speculated that the impending trade war with China might put that investment on hold, a fear that was confirmed in June. Chinese officials were supposed to attend the Northeast U.S. Petrochemical Construction Conference in Pittsburgh to announce the first round of investments in WV. However, Brian Anderson, director of the West Virginia University Energy Institute, said given the trade war with China, the officials elected to stay home instead. Anderson said at that time, “The pending trade war has put this project in jeopardy” (see Trade War Puts $83.7 Billion Chinese Investment in WV on Hold). But a few weeks later Anderson changed his tune. He told a reporter, “In terms of the development process, we continue to move forward…We’re even working on the next potential visits by officials and team members, so it’s not just the high-level executives, but development teams” (see $83.7B Chinese Investment in WV Shale & Petchem Still Alive?). Yesterday Ling Wen said even though there is an ongoing trade war between China and the U.S., the WV deal is still on. That’s good news. Wen also said that media reports that China cancelled trips “was not true.” That’s an outright lie. They did cancel trips in June…
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PA Cracker Plant Stirs Up More Barging Business Along Ohio River

It’s fun to see all of the many, varied businesses impacted by the shale industry and by “downstream” projects like the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker, currently being constructed in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. One of the reasons for selecting the Monaca site for a cracker is it’s location along the Ohio River, with access to barges. A majority of the components and materials being used to build the cracker are being shipped in by barge. That single project (the Shell cracker) has had and is having a huge economic impact throughout Beaver County and the entire region–especially on the barge industry. After the cracker is complete, output from the plant (plastic pellets) will likely not be shipped by barge, but by rail and truck. However, the cracker will attract a number of new manufacturing facilities to the region, locating there to use the plastic pellets coming from the cracker. Those plants manufacture a variety of products–and many of those products will be shipped by barge. The Pittsburgh region is experiencing a barge shipping renaissance, thanks to the Marcellus/Utica and thanks to the Shell cracker…
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The Folly of Divesting Fossil Fuel Stocks – Pension Funds Fall

In some liberal-dominated cities and states in the U.S., sleazy politicians have pushed their public pension funds to divest from fossil fuel companies. Dump the stock they own in those companies. Why? Who knows why. There’s no explaining insanity. Supposedly fossil fuels are evil and so-called renewables are righteous, so these sleazy politicians (like NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo) are forcing municipalities and entire states to divest. We told you last week that Gov. Andrew “tinhorn dictator” Cuomo is forcing the state public employee pension fund to divest–and it will cost pensioners a staggering $1 trillion out of their own pockets as a result (see Cuomo Plan to Divest Pension Fund from Fossil Fuels Cost NY $1T). The same thing will happen elsewhere if divestment catches on. Here’s a question: Why stop with divesting from fossil fuels? What about other libnut causes, like Pepsi and Coke–they make sugary drinks that make kids fat. What about divesting from fast food establishments, like McDonalds and Burger King and Wendy’s? What about divesting from Chick-fil-A? After all, Chick-fil-A is run by Christians (yuck!) and they dare to close their restaurants on Sundays. In fact, let’s just divest from everything! Where does this madness stop?…
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Utica Shale’s Impact on Ohio Past 10 Years: $100 Billion!

Aubrey McClendon, co-founder of Chesapeake Energy and founder of American Energy Partners (renamed to Ascent Resources) was the first to recognize the importance of the Ohio Utica Shale and once famously said the Utica is “the biggest thing to hit Ohio since maybe the plow.” Turns out he was right, God rest his soul. The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), a national group of families, farmers, small businesses, distributors, producers and manufacturers joined together to support America’s energy future, has just released a report that shows from 2006 to 2016, Ohioans saved more than $40 billion (!) on energy costs (natural gas and electricity) because of the Ohio Utica Shale. The report, titled “The Benefits of Ohio’s Natural Gas Production to Energy Consumers and Job Creators” (full copy below), breaks down the savings this way: Ohio residential customers saved close to $15 billion during the 10-year period, while commercial and industrial consumers saved more than $25 billion. But that’s not all. The report also quotes JobsOhio in saying that shale-related investment in the Buckeye State from 2011-2017 was a staggering $63.9 billion. If you add those two numbers together, the amount of money saved on energy (and therefore spent on other things), and the amount of money invested, it totals more than $100 billion of economic impact from shale in Ohio–in ten short years. Put another way, one-tenth of trillion dollars has been spent in Ohio because of shale. Mind-blowing…
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