Appalachian Basin

Jefferson County Gets Positive Updates on Shale Development

Progress Alliance and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce hosted a joint event on the “State of Shale” in Jefferson County, drawing a crowd of over 150 attendees anxious to learn more about the development happening in the region.

With speakers from Hess, Chesapeake, Ohio Oil and Gas Association, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program and economic development specialists from nearby shale developing regions, the program helped local businesses and community leaders gain a better understanding of the incredible benefits Utica Shale development has and will continue to bring to the region.

Rhonda Reda, Executive Director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), opened the event, giving the crowd a basic oil and gas 101 course to help the audience gain a better understanding of Ohio’s rich history in oil and gas development.  She also showcased OOGEEP’s firefighter training courses, along with their teacher workshops. Both workshops have been highly praised, and are offered to attendees free of charge in order to help Ohio’s teachers and emergency responders without any tax burden or any diversion of budget.

Tom Stewart, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, was the program’s keynote speaker.  Mr. Stewart gave the crowd incredible insight on Utica Shale development, and challenges the industry faces.  Thanks to shale development, Mr. Stewart pointed out to the crowd the significant savings Ohio consumers are having thanks to increased shale exploration.

Oil and gas usually trades, logically trades, in a ratio of 6 to 1.  It takes you 6 mcf of natural gas to get the same amount of energy equivalency btu’s, british thermal units, as 1 barrel of crude oil.  And over time, short of hurricane events or some other force majeure type of event that 6 to 1 ratio has held in the market place.  It has fundamentally changed and marketplaces going forward if you study the nymex exchange, markets going forward will tell you that this divergence between crude oil and natural gas will continue forward.  Right now the ratio of natural gas is spread to as high as 40 to 1.- Tom Stewart, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association

Following Tom Stewart’s keynote speech, the crowd participated in breakout sessions focused on different aspects like joining the supply chain and even a showing of Truthland.  One of the most interesting panels had Amy Rutledge, Executive Director at Carroll County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Washington County, Pennsylvania Commissioner Harlan G. Shober Jr., both of whom shared with the audience the positive impacts of shale development they’ve experienced in their communities.

Amy Rutledge, who lives in Carroll County, has seen shale development take off over the past year.  Leading the state in most permits and wells developed, Carroll County is the epicenter of Ohio’s current Utica Shale development.  She has seen  tremendous growth in their economy, and significant improvement to their roads thanks to Utica exploration.

The first half of 2012 our sales tax was up 300,000 dollars over last years sales tax for the first half of the year.  We collected 1.9 million dollars for all of last year and by the end of July we have already done 1.6 for this year. So you can see this is a huge difference.  Carroll County has less the 30,000 people in the entire county.  So we’re a very small county, very rural.  So you can see those numbers are very significant.  Like Jefferson County our unemployment is now down 6% I think with the August numbers, way below the national average and everything else so we are seeing that.- Amy Rutledge, Executive Director at Carroll County Convention & Visitors Bureau

In addition to Ms. Rutledge’s promising outlook for Carroll County, Commissioner Shober from Washington County discussed what they have experienced since they are about four years ahead of Ohio in shale development and have developed around 650 wells in Washington County.  He echoed many of the points of Ms. Rutledge made about the amazing economic benefits provided by shale development.

Businesses have moved in like crazy.  There is a place called South Point which right near Cannonsburg Pennsylvania on route 79.  Just in that one square mile area of South Point there are over 50 companies have moved in, they’re all gas related within the last few years.  And yes to answer the question back here the chamber has grown and has been growing with about a 1,000 or so members for Washington County and a lot of those are new companies that are gas companies directly like Range Resources, Chesapeake, Consol, Consolidated and all the others, but there is a lot of trickle down that goes on new companies that have moved in or formed or expanded within the area.- Washington County, Pennsylvania Commissioner Harlan G. Shober Jr

With expansion like this happening in neighboring areas, thankfully there are those like Amy Rutledge and Commissioner Shober who are gracious enough to provide Jefferson County with the experience and advice needed to help them make the most of shale development.  As Jefferson County prepares for increased activity, they can be thankful to have forward looking organizations like Progress Alliance and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce there to help educate their members and interested parties.

I am sure the attendees learned a lot from the presentations and panel discussions to help be involved in what is to be a very exciting time in Jefferson County.

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