Appalachian Basin

TOGA Prepares Tuscarawas County for Utica Development

On Tuesday, the Tuscarawas Oil and Gas Alliance (TOGA) hosted a summit to discuss upcoming shale development in Tuscarawas County.  The gathering brought together community leaders from government, industry, education, workforce, agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries.  The event, held at Kent State University Tuscarawas Campus attracted over 100 individuals interested on learning more about Utica Shale development.

TOGA brought in some of the best experts Ohio has to offer, along with some folks who have first-hand experience in shale development  from next door in Pennsylvania.  The morning’s panel included Rhonda Reda, Executive Director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program(OOGEEP); Dr. Bob Chase, Chair of Marietta College’s Petroleum Engineering Program; Pam Snyder, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Greene County (PA); and Andrew Thomas, Executive-in-Residence, Energy Policy Center, Cleveland State University.

The panel was split into four sections.  Commissioner Snyder covered “What We Found”.  Dr. Chase covered “What we Know.”  Rhonda Reda covered “What We Expect.”  Andrew Thomas covered “What’s the Big Picture.”

These sections were well thought out by TOGA.  They gave the audience an all encompassing view of the potentials of Utica Shale development as well as some of the facts regarding exploration.

Dr. Chase was able to clear up the many misconceptions put forth by those in opposition to oil and gas development.  During his presentation Dr. Chase even shared his feelings on the movie Gasland, a film that, unfortunately, has caused for a lot of misconceptions and unnecessary concerns regarding the processes and practices involved in development.

If you’ve been subjected to the movie Gasland, which is a drama, it was made for money.  It wasn’t made to be factual in my opinion.  Dimock, Pennsylvania has got some people showing gas coming out of their water faucets.  That gas is coming from other sources other than the deep wells in that area. – Dr. Robert Chase

Rhonda Reda provided information on the many programs and services OOGEEP offers to organizations in Ohio,  from scholarships and teacher training to providing fire training for Ohio’s fire departments – all at no cost for attendees.  But what really stood out was the economic development study put together by Kleinhenz and Associates in September 2011.

This discussion shed some light on just how big Utica development could be for Tuscarawas County. The study shows an estimated 204,520 jobs will be created through 2015.  This development is also expected to bring about  over $34 billion in investments through exploration, development, midstream, royalty and lease expenditures.  Economic activity has been so robust that the study’s predictions for 2012 are already being exceeded.

I want to highlight this number here as I want to show you on my next slide.  This is where we were off in my projections.  We projected about 1.4 billion dollars being spent by the end of 2012 and we have already had investments of over $2.75 billion.  That’s a nice number to be off by. – Rhonda Reda

After the crowd got excited by the possibility of the Utica Shale, it was time to learn from someone who has already experienced shale production in their county.  Commissioner Snyder of Greene County, Pennsylvania, shared her experience with the Marcellus Shale development in her county.

Greene County had always been one of the poorest counties in Pennsylvania.  But after Marcellus development began, Commissioner Snyder noticed a change. The county began to see an influx of investment and jobs.  Today, Greene County went from being one of the most depressed counties to a county with one of Pennsylvania’s lowest unemployment in the state.

The lowest that it’s probably ever been in Greene County history and it is in large part to Marcellus Shale gas industry being here.  A recent study out of Pennsylvania just did an analysis on sales tax revenue increases, 67 counties in Pennsylvania and Greene County was 2nd in the highest rate of sales tax increase. A 31.4% increase.  For a county our size, I can’t even tell you what that means. – Pam Snyder

The crowd left with a better sense of what’s possible thanks to the many presentations provided by panelists. Commissioner Snyder’s testimony was particularly compelling, but its important to note her story is not uncommon.  Indeed, similar experiences are occurring in communities in shale plays throughout the United States. Luckily with the leadership of TOGA and interest of the community, Tuscarawas will be well positioned to take full advantage of opportunities provided by Utica Shale development and hopefully become Ohio’s Greene County.

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