attended the first midstream conference of its kind in the Northeast on April 19 & 20th
where oil and gas industry's giants presented their current and projected agenda for developing unconventional natural gas in the NY/PA/WV/OH/MD corridor. The attendance greatly exceeded the originally
expected 400, topping more than 800, with representatives abounding from upstream, midstream and downstream sectors within the expo portion of the event. The energy in the room was infectious, and with the Marcellus gaining momentum, everyone knew the gold rush of our lifetime was upon us and we all had front row seats. The notion of Pennsylvania being largely responsible, as 63% of PA is comprised of the Marcellus Shale, for ending our Nation's addiction to foreign oil was surreal and is fast becoming a reality. This all well in advance of 2014 where a barrel of oil is expected to top $220. Although 32 out of 50 states posses shale lines and produce unconventional gas, the current projected 9.6 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to geologists, within the Marcellus Shale is expected to support current natural gas consumption in the entire United States for at least 100 years. These numbers may change as more areas within the shale line are developed and innovation within seismology techniques occurs. Clearly, Pennsylvania is strategically positioned at the forefront of this gold rush, the first time since oil was discovered here in 1859, as a result of fortuitous
geography. The development of unconventional gas within the United States is going to become a global force to be reckoned with, subsequently turning OPEC on its head and tipping the scales of power in our favor, quite possibly with the Pennsylvania region in the driver's seat. PA's
economy, through both direct and indirect impacts as a result of midstream activity in previously economically defunct areas, realistically stands to lead the U.S. out of its domestic recession. Specifically, through grand scale, decent wage rate, job creation as well as the prospect of becoming a natural gas and oil exporter.
To set this in a larger context and make it more tangible for the lay reader, rather than a "pie in the sky" speculative venture, since 2004 Allegheny, Chautauqua, and Cattaraugus coiunties within New York state have been drilled and pipelines constructed to serve markets within NYC and Northern New Jersey to date. Although there currently has been a moratorium placed on drilling within the NYC watershed, concerted efforts by various energy companies to satisfy those residents that benefit from the watershed comfortable that their drinking water will not be contaminated by the hydraulic fracturing process. For obvious reasons, this was another hot topic of discussion although informally throughout the conference as it stands at the forefront of controversy with environmental interest groups that are trying to delay at minimum and obstruct at best drilling and pipeline infrastructure. Although environmental concerns are valid concern as not to repeat the cardinal sins of our forefathers during the industrial revolution, the greater good that stands to be gained here cannot be maligned. Through due diligence and innovation, I am confident that development of best practices that safeguard the environment and public welfare can be acheived, subsequently filling the current loop holes in the safe water drinking act. Furthermore, all indications are that the oil and gas industry is poised for full throttle within the Marcellus Shale play. As of 2010, approximately 5100 drilling permits were issued in PA with the intention to develop transmission infrastructure that reaches Chicago. Without reservation, it stands to reason that Pennsylvania will experience a renaissance that will hopefully only gain momentum across the nation.