Marcellus opens opportunities for natural gas and for northeast

03 October 2011 21:15  [Source: ICIS news]

(recast with Pittsburgh dateline instead of Houston)

PITTSBURGH (ICIS)--The wide-angle view of the Marcellus shale play shows a new way to meet US energy needs with domestic production and creates a massive increase in job opportunities, company executives said at the Infocast Marcellus Infrastructure Finance and Development Summit on Monday.

“America believed so much [natural gas supply] moved to the Middle East that we started importing to America,” said Mike Stice, president of Chesapeake Midstream, CEO of Chesapeake Midstream Partners, and senior vice president of natural gas for Chesapeake Energy.

“[Now we] have the ability to bring abundant and affordable fuel to the industry, and shame on us if we don’t embrace this opportunity,” he said.

The Marcellus shale basin runs primarily through West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. In 1999 the chance of success for drilling an unconventional, or shale, well was 19%, Stice said. The success for a shale well now has increased to 95%.

“We have changed from a country short in natural gas to a country long in natural gas,” he said.

Stice said there are three ways Chesapeake is working on to pull natural gas into new demand sectors. First, the company is aiming to make natural gas more available for fleet transportation. Second, Chesapeake has developed a technique to blend natural gas with diesel, bring economic and environmental benefits. Finally, Chesapeake plans to bottle liquefied natural gas (LNG) in thermos trucks and transport the LNG to fuel natural gas rigs.

“We are looking at deploying [natural gas] across the board,” Stice said. “The pilot programmes have shown very good results.”

The robust production in the Marcellus and need for infrastructure has also benefited communities in the northeast.

“This is an exciting thing from a macroeconomic standpoint with the impact of jobs in the economy [and taxes to the states], Stice said.

President Jack Lafield of Caiman Energy said the petrochemical plants coming to the region will hire 1,000-3,000 people.

“[This] is all created by the fact that the local shale play has a 100 year life to provide input to petrochemical facilities and make it a worldwide competitor.”

But Stice said Chesapeake Energy has 800 open jobs, unable to find qualified applicants.

In addition, the local energy consumers save money as they are not paying for the transport of natural gas from the US Gulf. In 2010, residents of Pennsylvania saved more than $600m, he said.

By: Sheena Martin
+1 713 525 2653

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