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  1. US Natural Gas Prices Spike To 14-Year High. Here’s Why:

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    New York(CNN Business)US natural gas prices have skyrocketed to levels unseen since 2008, a spike that threatens to offset the benefits of falling prices at the gas pump.

    Natural gas futures surged 7% on Tuesday to close at $9.33 per million British thermal unit (BTU), the highest closing price since August 1, 2008.

    Although natural gas futures cooled off a touch on Wednesday, they remain up about 70% just since the end of June. And natural gas is up a staggering 525% since closing at $1.48 in June 2020 when Covid-19 had shut much of the US economy down.

    The summer spike is being driven in part by high demand as scorching temperatures through much of the country force Americans to crank up the air conditioning. That in turn has chipped away at relatively low inventory levels.

    “We’ve had this perma-heat wave cooking the United States,” said Robert Yawger, vice president of energy futures at Mizuho Securities.

    As temperatures drop this fall and winter, the natural gas spike signals sticker shock for families. Not only is natural gas a leading fuel source for the electric grid, it’s the most popular way to heat homes in America.

    “Depending on the weather, it could be a challenging winter,” said Rob Thummel, senior portfolio manager at Tortoise Capital Advisors. “But not as challenging as in Europe. They are at risk of running out of natural gas. We aren’t.”


    Europe’s natural gas prices are seven times higher

    Europe’s natural gas crisis is being driven by its reliance on energy from Russia, which has slashed natural gas flows to Europe in response to Western sanctions.

    The European Union has been forced to lay plans to ration natural gas, a drastic step that will hurt families and businesses. Natural gas prices have skyrocketed so high in Europe that it threatens to send the continent’s economy into recession.

    For context, Europe’s natural gas prices are trading at levels equivalent to about $70 per million BTUs, according to Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. That is roughly seven times higher than prices in the United States.

    But that is little consolation to Americans grappling with high prices at the grocery store, clothing stores and at restaurants.

    Even as natural gas prices surge, oil prices have tumbled, helping to drive gasoline prices sharply lower. The national average for regular gasoline has dropped 64 days in a row, according to AAA.


    Exports pick-up to Europe

    Analysts say Europe’s natural gas crisis is contributing to the higher natural gas prices in America, although it’s not the main driver.

    “Higher global prices are trickling down to the US. Natural gas has become a global commodity with the emergency of LNG,” said Thummel.

    The United States has stepped up its exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe in an effort to mitigate the impact of the loss of Russian gas.

    “Every spare molecule we can find, we are shipping to the eurozone,” said Yawger.

    US natural gas production is lagging behind

    But the bigger issue for US natural gas is the fact that inventory levels are below historical averages, leaving the market with less of a buffer and driving up prices.

    “We entered this year at beaten-down levels and we never caught up,” Yawger said.

    Supply has failed to keep up with strong demand for gas. Thummel pointed to how US oil and gas producers are under pressure from Wall Street to spend less on expensive drilling projects and more on dividends and buybacks to shareholders.

    “We need more US natural gas production. The production levels are too low,” Thummel said.

    The good news is that higher prices should, eventually, incentivize more production. And investors are not betting today’s high prices will continue. The futures market indicates natural gas prices should be almost 50% lower at this point next year.

    Then again, very few people thought a year ago natural gas prices would be at 2008 levels. And yet here we are.

    Original Article by Matt Egan, CNN Business on August 17, 2022. 

    Read Original Article Here

  2. Natural Gas Is the Future of Energy

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    Without stepping foot in the Mountain State, getting to know our people or way of life, politicians in Washington, D.C., and from other states are advancing energy and environmental policies that would be punishing to West Virginia’s businesses, communities, way of life and citizens. 

    While we’ve long been a leading producer of the world’s energy, West Virginia’s natural gas and oil sector of today is modern and efficient, with digital innovation and technological breakthroughs transforming a sector vital to our state’s livelihood.

    The energy we produce here powers lives across the world — and, with natural gas demand set to rise globally almost 25% by 2050, we’re doing it more cleanly, efficiently and responsibly than anywhere else on the planet.

    From Williamson to Charleston, Parkersburg and Weirton, natural gas and oil are the life blood of West Virginia’s economy, contributing $11.2 billion to our state’s annual economic output, according to a recent report.

    The 82,000 union and nonunion jobs we support across our economy means diners filled inWest Union, new development in Bridgeport and opportunities for high school, technical school and college graduates to find a good-paying career here at home.

    Today’s natural gas and oil sector is ahead of the curve, advancing technologies that move the entire industry forward. From pad drilling and underground horizontal laterals, which greatly reduce the amount of surface development, to recycling and water-reuse practices that limit fresh-water withdraws, and recognizing value in older wells through care and attention and responsible plugging, we’re seeing the future of natural gas and oil development right here inWest Virginia.

    Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and our entire congressional delegation understand the critical importance of natural gas to meeting the dual challenge of a cleaner and economically prosperous world. Yet, far too many in Washington don’t realize the devastating consequences of unrealistic energy and environmental policies.

    In Pleasants County, thanks to readily available natural gas, we are seeing manufacturing on the rise, as the $350 million West Virginia Methanol facility will take natural gas and convert it into a critical input for all sorts of everyday goods, such as carpeting, clothing, and medical masks and gloves, to name a few.

    And the proposed Longview Power natural gas plant in Monongalia County is a great example of using the natural gas right beneath our feet to power nearby homes and businesses. In addition to contributing reliable energy to the electrical grid, the construction of the plant will create 5,000 jobs during construction, generating more than $360 million in total compensation.

    We are proud to produce energy that powers our state, nation and the world. Rather than talking past each other on cable news, politicians might consider spending more time in thec ommunities affected by their decisions.

    Come to West Virginia and see the future of American energy at work.


    Original Article by Charlie Burd Executive Director, GO-WV, March 7th 2022, on

    Original Article Here

  3. West Virginia Is Blessed With Abundant Energy

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    As 2021 finishes out, West Virginians have experienced many blessings — from a rebounding economy with more job opportunities to a stronger, more fiscally sound state.We’re moving forward, together. 

    We’ve even seen the benefits — and drawbacks — of being in the national political spotlight thanks to the steadfast leadership from Sens. Manchin and Capito, and our congressional delegation. Amid the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., our leaders haven’t forgotten their roots, the people who helped get them into office, and the energy sector that’s bedrock to our state and nation’s well-being. 

    Whether it’s heating homes, schools, and small businesses, spurring manufacturing growth, advancing environmental goals, or creating opportunities for local high school, trade, and college grads, our world is brighter because of West Virginia natural gas. 

    Make no mistake, the fundamentals of our industry remain strong. We’ve seen year-over-year increases in natural gas production that have made West Virginia the country’s fifth largest energy producer. And additional pipeline expansion in 2022 will open new markets for our resource. 

    The highest paying sector in West Virginia, natural gas development, supports the careers of more than 82,000 West Virginians, from Weirton to Bluefield and everywhere in between. 

    The natural gas we produce in the Mountain State is our economic engine and climate plan — and expanding domestic and international natural gas use will further drive production growth, investment, job creation across West Virginia, and reduce our overall global carbon footprint. It’s not rocket science — it’s Economics 101. 

    More U.S. natural gas production is an all-around win-win. As we headed into the winter season, Americans cranked up the heat, and it’s natural gas that kept us warm. Approximately 40% of West Virginia’s homes rely on natural gas for heating, as do about half of all American households. 

    While energy prices have risen lately due to numerous factors, including poor political and regulatory decisions, thanks to greater U.S. production, Americans continue to enjoy significant energy savings at home and at the gas pump. Since 2008, households, businesses and manufacturers have saved $1.1 trillion due to increased production across the country, including in Appalachia. 

    All West Virginians enjoy the energy savings this industry creates — and when our industry does better, so does our state’s overall fiscal health. 

    Revenues generated by taxes on natural gas and oil have contributed more than $3 billion to the state budget since 2008 — including hundreds of millions of dollars annually in severance and local property tax revenues, both of which directly support individual counties. 

    Municipalities rely on this vital revenue stream to carry out the basic functions of local government — like maintaining roads, improving bridges and parks. 

    These blessings are just a few of the positive impacts the oil and natural gas industry have had on our state, much of which we have a duty to share with our nation and allies across the globe. 

    As the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, our supply far outpaces domestic demand, giving us the opportunity to share these clean energy resources with the rest of the world. In 2022, the U.S. is projected to be the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter — snagging the top spot from Russia and the Middle East. Our position as the world’s trusted, reliable energy supplier enhances our national security, and is good for our climate and our economy here at home. 

    While many obstacles remain heading into the new year, the past two years have forced our industry to adapt and be resilient, priming us for immense growth as we continue to expand and deliver more for American and global consumers. 

    We have much to be excited about as 2022 approaches and we’re grateful each and every day for the talent, grit and determination of our industry in delivering the energy that’s fueling our future. 


    Original Article by Charlie Burd, March 7, 2022 on

    Original Article Here

  4. How W.V. Oil and Gas Aids U.S. Foreign Policy

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    The energy sector is fundamental to our nation’s economy, creating good jobs for hardworking Americans and providing innovative solutions to modern-day challenges. As a top-five energy producer, what we do right here in West Virginia — whether it’s producing, transporting, or using our natural resources — makes a big difference in everyday life. 

    Especially now, as Europe faces an energy crisis and a conflict in Ukraine, we’re seeing firsthand the importance of our energy abundance to America’s national security and foreign policy interests. Just last week, the White House and European Commission made a pact to increase the supply of liquefied natural gas, including from the U.S., to Europe.

    “The United States and the EU are working jointly towards continued, sufficient, and timely supply of natural gas to the EU from diverse sources across the globe to avoid supply shocks, including those that could result from a further Russian invasion of Ukraine,” a joint WhiteHouse-European Commission release said.

    We mustn’t forget that the shale revolution that occurred right here in Appalachia over the past decade is what enabled our country to become the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, and recently, the largest exporter. Hydraulic fracturing unleashed resources once considered unattainable in the Marcellus and Utica shales (found across much of West Virginia,Pennsylvania, and Ohio), and this region now provides a third of the total U.S. natural gas supply.

    It’s also important to recognize it’s West Virginia’s natural gas producers helping to meet the growing demand for U.S. LNG.

    Antero Resources, for example, is the top natural gas producer in the state and provided enough natural gas for the equivalent of 90 LNG cargoes sent to our allies in 2020 alone. They are directly supplying LNG to nations around the world, improving their energy security, health, safety and livelihood.

    Another major West Virginia producer, Southwestern Energy, transports roughly 50% of the natural gas they produce in Appalachia and Haynesville to the Gulf of Mexico to be sold on the global LNG market to our allies.

    Simply put, “the U.S. LNG industry, powered by American shale, is a solution that could prevent this type of crisis we are seeing over there in Europe from happening,” EQT CEO Toby Rice recently told CNN.

    Not only does America benefit from LNG export growth as it supports our domestic economy, but we are also providing the world with a cleaner energy source, helping reduce global emissions.

    Consider: Our country has reduced energy-related emissions faster than any other country because we started producing and using more natural gas, and American LNG export provides other nations with that same ability.

    West Virginia-produced energy is key to providing this critical fuel to our country, but we are also being more efficient and environmentally responsible than any other shale-producing basin in the country. As a recent Rystad Energy report found, “the Appalachian Basin was US’ best-in-class in 2020 when it comes to CO2 emissions intensity … Such a level of CO2 intensity performance brings Appalachia to the top quartile among all oil and gas fields globally.”

    This progress is because West Virginia’s oil and natural gas producers are driving innovation, creating environmental solutions, and they are committed to making West Virginia a better place to live and work.

    Across the region, companies are implementing best practices, reducing emissions and setting goals to improve environmental performance. These initiatives include responsibly sourced natural gas certification, carbon capture and storage, and setting aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

    Whether large or small, the companies that make up West Virginia’s oil and natural gas energy industry take environmental protection, conservation and public safety incredibly seriously.These are our mountains, valleys, rivers and communities after all, and we are incredibly proud to contribute to American energy and national security.


    Original Article by Charlie Burd, March 7th, 2022 on

    Original Article Here

  5. Pipeline Infrastructure Unlocks W.Va.’s Energy Potential

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    West Virginia is an energy powerhouse, and it’s no secret the work we do here keeps the lights on across our country and throughout the world. In fact, natural gas production has grown 770% over the past decade — thanks to the advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies — edging the Mountain State up to be the nation’s fifth-largest energy producer. 

    But without modern pipeline infrastructure, there’s no way to move energy from where it’s produced to where it’s needed.

    Natural gas and oil development is an economic and environmental winner for the entire region. Families and communities rely on the good-paying jobs, investments in manufacturing, and small business support that energy production generates.

    In 2019, West Virginia’s natural gas and oil industry supported more than 82,000 well-paying jobs, contributing over $11.2 billion to our economy.

    And thanks to the homegrown energy produced in our backyards, West Virginians save billions in household energy costs – $4.3 billion in 10 years (2006-2016), to be exact, according to theConsumer Energy Alliance. For commercial and industrial natural gas users, those savings amount to $2.7 billion.

    In order to build on that success, we must commit to expanding and building new pipelines, transmission systems, and processing facilities to deliver more affordable, reliable energy.

    Pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport natural gas, and they’re overwhelmingly safely built by skilled building trades men and women. But politics, government red tape and “Keep it in the Ground” extreme activism aimed at ceasing the development of all fossil fuels have stopped, blocked, or delayed critical pipeline projects that would improve access to affordable, abundant energy.

    Locally, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is facing some of the same hurdles that led to the cancellation of other pipelines, like the PennEast Pipeline a few weeks ago and the AtlanticCoast Pipeline last summer.

    Mountain Valley, expected to go into service next year, spans more than 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, with a proposed extension to increase service to fast-growing North Carolina communities.

    Pipelines to move gas to the Southeast, New England and Midwest markets are critical to fueling economic growth while helping states reach their climate goals. Just in North Carolina, natural gas use for electricity generation grew 13-fold from 2005-2018, and one in every four homes depends on natural gas for heating.

    But regulatory delays and pipeline blockades threaten the success of MVP and risk burdening consumers as they have in New England, where anti-domestic energy policies force consumers to rely upon imports to meet demand — despite being within a stone’s throw of the Marcellus and Utica shales.

    To continue driving economic growth, keep the lights on and achieve clean air progress in WestVirginia, we need a business-friendly environment that attracts pipeline infrastructure development and related downstream investments such as manufacturing.

    We must prioritize making improvements in our country’s pipeline infrastructure network for the sake of all West Virginians, our nation’s energy security, and our world’s environmental well-being.


    Original Article by Charlie Burd Executive Director, GO-WW March 7th, 2022 on

    Original Article Here

  6. Natural Gas Power Plant to Provide Economic Catalyst to Harrison County & WV

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    A new natural-gas-fired power plant in Harrison County is expected to be operational by fall of 2021, according to a company official.

    Groundbreaking on the approximately 550-megawatt Harrison County Power Plant, a joint project of Energy Solutions Consortium and Caithness Energy, is expected to occur late this spring on county-owned property in Clarksburg’s Montpelier Addition, according to John Black, vice president of development for Energy Solutions Consortium. Black was in town Thursday to address members of the Harrison County Development Authority at their regular meeting. The meeting had to be canceled for lack of a quorum, but Black did provide an update on the project to those who were there.

    Engineering work already has started at the Glen Falls substation, he said. “There will be an expansion of the Glen Falls substation, and that’s where we’ll sell our power. That’s our point of interconnect” via a 1.8-mile transmission line, Black said. According to Black, the plant will support 400 jobs during construction, which will be filled using union laborers. The plant will have between 15 and 25 permanent employees, but will support other maintenance and supply businesses in the area. There may be additional opportunity for the construction laborers who come on board in Harrison County.

    Energy Solutions Consortium is also moving forward on a larger, 830-megawatt natural gas power plant in Brooke County. That project is approximately two months behind the Harrison County project, according to Black. “Our hope is to stagger them just enough that some of the labor can be switching from one to the other,” he said. The company estimates the annual overall economic impact of the Harrison County project will be about $880 million. “The financial commitment not only to our area, but the state of West Virginia, is substantial,” said Harrison County Administrator Willie Parker.

    Once construction is complete, the energy generated at the plant will flow into the PJM power grid, Black said. The PJM grid covers all or part of 13 states, including West Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to the transmission organization’s website. Some owners of property adjoining the power plant site have addressed the company with concerns regarding the facility’s aesthetics, noise levels and impact on traffic, but Black said the company has been able to allay those fears.

    The facility will be “very compact” at 12 acres, with a 180-foot stack that “won’t even go above the ridge line.” There will not be a visible plume, and emissions will be “well below permit limits,” Black said. The plant will run at about 55-65 decibels. According to information from Purdue University, 60 decibels is about the noise level of restaurant conversation, background music or an air-conditioning unit at a distance of 100 feet. Traffic will enter the property via a new access road rather than on Pinnickinnick Street, he said.

    According to Black, Harrison County was the ideal location for the plant because of its interconnection, fuel supply, labor development opportunities and water and sewer availability. “The real key is fuel. We’re in the heart of the fuel. To be able to get this kind of supply with only a six-mile pipeline to a major interstate is just huge for us,” Black said. Both the fuel and the transportation of that fuel to the plant will be handled by West Virginia companies, he said. EQT will construct a 6-mile pipeline to transport the gas into the plant, Black said. “Our gas bill every year is $110 million, and that’s West Virginia gas,” Black said. That will benefit the natural gas industry in West Virginia as a whole, said Harrison County Development Authority President Michael Jenkins.

    “That’s long-term severance tax revenue back to the taxpayers,” Jenkins said. “The biggest holdup to more drilling in the state and producing more wells and more royalty is having somewhere to utilize natural gas. These plants become instantly one of the largest consumers of natural gas in the region and start to build more demand for the natural gas.”

    Developers will turn over their access road to the state, and water and sewer utilities will be oversized to help accommodate additional development, Black said. “Once we are finished with it, we’re going to have 16 acres of property right next door perfect for people to come in and be a supplier to us. We’re going to have a brand new road, water and sewer access … and we’re updating the internet into the property,” he said. Harrison County Commission President Ron Watson said he hopes the infrastructure infusion in the area can spur additional growth surrounding the site.

    “It’s a beautiful day to be in Harrison County. The sun is shining brightly when you talk about half a billion dollars to build this that’s going to be back into our economy. We’ve been waiting, going through the hoops, and it will be a reality when the shovel digs,” he said.Watson said he expects the commission to reinvest funds from the eventual sale of the county property to plant developers into development in the plant area.


    Article by JoAnn Snoderly, WVNews

  7. PTT official gives update on cracker project

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    The project director for the planned PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker in Belmont County said having such a surplus of the natural gas liquid so close to Eastern Seaboard population centers makes the Dilles Bottom location ideal.

    Paul Wojciechowski said the Thailand-based petrochemical firm will make a final decision on construction by early next year, during the Ohio Valley Regional Oil & Gas Expo at the James Carnes Center Tuesday.

    If built, the cracker construction would generate thousands of temporary jobs and hundreds of full-time permanent jobs, along with the millions of dollars in wages paid and associated economic activity generated. Wojciechowski also told the several hundred attending that any plans to burn the liquid are counterproductive. “Friends don’t let friends burn ethane. That would be a waste,” he said. Developers of the proposed $615 million Moundsville Power natural gas power plant previously announced intentions to burn ethane in their facility.

    Also, some producers now blend ethane into their methane streams to heat homes. Wojciechowski said he plans to meet with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials this week to discuss some of the permits for which PTT Global Chemical will soon apply. Such a project would create certain types of air pollution, according to documents filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection for the Royal Dutch Shell ethane cracker planned for Monaca, Pa. Although Wojciechowski emphasized he could not promise the plant would be built, he said the nearly 500- acre site between Ohio 7 and the Ohio River would be preferred. “It was important for me to show you just how perfect this area is for our plant,” he said, displaying an aerial photograph of the site.

    Contractors working for FirstEnergy Corp. are demolishing the closed R.E. Burger power plant. The massive project would include the Burger site, along with another nearly 300 acres to the west. Wojciechowski said plans call for having infrastructure that would “crack” the ethane into ethylene, which then would be transformed into ethylene glycol for antifreeze polyethylene for plastic. “Hundreds of rail cars of polyethylene pellets per month,” Wojciechowski said of how much completed material the plant would ship via railroad.

    Expo attendees also heard from Rob Wingo, senior vice president of Rice Energy, on Tuesday. Rice is one of the largest producers of natural gas in the region, claiming eight of the 10 most prolific natural gas wells in Ohio during the final quarter of 2015 — all in Belmont County. “We do have a great technology team that keeps us ahead and gives us great well results,” Wingo said. Wingo said every driller in the region is waiting for more interstate pipeline capacity to come online.

    Presently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission continues reviewing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Rover Pipeline, the Leach XPress pipeline, the Mountaineer XPress pipeline and the Nexus Pipeline. Rick Frio serves as chairman of MPR Transloading & Energy Services in Bellaire and is one of the expo’s organizers. The business serves to supply fracking sand and other materials producers need. “This industry is safe, it’s effective — it’s a great thing for our communities,” he said.

    By Casey Junkins, The Times Leader

  8. Legislators Updated on China Energy Deal

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    Commerce Secretary Hopes China Energy Project Will Begin This Year.

    CHARLESTON – Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher offered legislators a few new tidbits — though still no specifics — on the $83.7 billion China Energy agreement. Thrasher addressed a Jan. 9 joint meeting of the interim Natural Gas Development and Energy committees. Answering a question if this is a deal to simply sell off our resources, he said no. “It is bricks and mortar facilities for the purpose of generating value-added products in the petrochemical industry.”

    The immediate goal is a single project, though he wouldn’t say what it is. “We are working actively on that project one step at a time.” He continued, “Our goal is to expedite the initial project as quickly as we can for a variety of reasons. And I’m hopeful that the details of that begin to unfold in the next few months.” He hopes to see some construction by the end of this year, he said.

    Most people guess that the unspecified projects are some sort of manufacturing facilities that would use the products generated from cracker plants being developed for the region. Thrasher speculated that the majority of the market for the China Energy-related projects would be overseas, predominately China. But the focus is on employing local residents in businesses that pay taxes to West Virginia, and selling the products those businesses produce. “It makes sense from a business model.”

    Thrasher said he had no specific timeframe for any aspect of what’s unfolding, but during three visits with the people from China Energy, he’s seen a “great sense of urgency.” He’s heading back to China on Saturday, he said, to meet the company’s new board. “These are big projects. They’re significant.”

    Thrasher said last week’s announcement from Appalachia Development Group – a subsidiary of Charleston-based high-tech firm MATRIC – provides an important step forward. The group announced on Jan. 3 that it was invited to submit a Part II Application for a $1.9 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee to support the development of infrastructure for the Appalachia Storage & Trading Hub, which would store natural gas liquids for a regional plastics industry.

    The group said that the American Chemistry Council believes the hub would serve as a catalyst for the creation of an estimated $36 billion in follow-on petrochemical investments and more than 100,000 new long-term jobs, drawing resources from Marcellus, Utica and Rogersville shale deposits.

    Thrasher said that the Department of Energy’s action “has significant impact in terms of the risk level of folks coming in.” Jim Crews, vice president of business development for MArkWest Energy Partners, offered the legislators additional prospective on the region’s potential.

    “The United States, and the Appalachian Basin, is the Saudi Arabia for the production of natural gas liquids,” he said.

    Colorado-based MarkWest is a midstream gas processor with three West Virginia facilities. It’s Sherwood plant in the Doddridge County is the nation’s fourth largest and will soon be expanded to become the largest. He offered a somewhat technical slideshow on how the gas liquids – ethane, propane and butane – are separated from the methane and sent on for further production.

    The wet natural gas in this region, he said, contains enough ethane – used in light plastics – to feed six cracker plants. Some of it now gets shipped south to the Gulf for processing, but most goes to waste because it’s too expensive to ship and there’s no industry here yet to process it.

    Article By David Beard, The Dominion Post

  9. WVU-led research team lays foundation for natural gas storage ‘hub’; opportunity for economic growth in the region

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    It is no secret that the region around West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio has abundant natural gas resources, but can the three states uncover the keys to turning those resources into economic growth? West Virginia University-led research may have some of the answers.

    On August 29, WVU is releasing to the public a study that shows how the region can support storage facilities that are critical for attracting petrochemical and related industries to the area. Researchers will present the data at a technical workshop in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, hosted by the Eastern Petroleum Technology Transfer Council, PTTC, at WVU.

    Led by Doug Patchen, director of the WVU Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Consortium and the Eastern PTTC, researchers from the geological surveys in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio studied geologic formations that could offer suitable locations for developers to build underground facilities to store natural gas liquids from Marcellus and Utica wells.

    The team identified and mapped all potential options for subsurface storage of natural gas liquids along the Ohio River from southwestern Pennsylvania to eastern Kentucky, and the Kanawha River in West Virginia. The researchers focused on three options for subsurface storage.

    One option includes areas where the Salina F Salt is at least 100 feet thick and suitable for solution mining, a type of mining that uses a liquid such as water injected through a borehole to dissolve and extract salts and minerals.

    Another option includes areas where the Greenbrier Limestone is present 1,800 to 2,000 feet below the surface and is at least 40 feet thick. Converting existing sandstone reservoirs in depleted gas fields and inactive gas storage fields to natural gas liquids storage is the third option.

    Previously, the consortium had conducted studies of the Marcellus and Utica shale gas plays. Results from those studies have been used by both small producers such as Northeast Natural Energy and large multinationals such as Exxon and have helped fuel the region’s shale gas boom. This latest work was conducted as part of the Tri-State Shale Coalition, an innovative cross-border collaboration among Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and a critical key for unlocking the region’s economic opportunity, according to its members.

    The Coalition was created following a collaborative agreement signed in October 2015 by Governors’ offices in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Charter members include the Benedum Foundation, a charitable organization, and Team NEO, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Vision Shared, all non-profit economic development organizations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

    A public-private partnership, the coalition brings together workforce development organizations, academic institutions such as WVU, and economic development groups to strategically advance the area as a “super-region” for petrochemical, plastics fabrication and advanced manufacturing jobs and investments.

    “Recognition of the enormous opportunity for economic development based upon shale gas, including downstream modern manufacturing, was the motivation for the Governors of West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to agree to collaborate to maximize the opportunity,” said William Getty, Benedum Foundation president.

    The WVU Energy Institute secured $100,000 from the Benedum Foundation to support the study. That amount was matched by a total of $100,000 more from AEP, Antero, Blue Racer, Charleston Area Alliance, Chevron, Dominion, EQT, First Energy/Team NEO, Mountaineer NGL Storage LLC, Noble Energy, Southwestern Energy, XTO Energy and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.

    Click here to view the article at WVUToday.


  10. Reflecting & Projecting

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    There were some economic positives in 2016. Interest rates remained low while capital slowly became more attainable, resulting in a demand for investment/income-producing assets. Education and health care remained strong in Morgantown and other parts of north central WV. Respectively, the West Virginia University Board of Governors unanimously approved a $1.04 billion budget for the fiscal year which began on July 1, 2016. (WVUToday) Ruby Memorial Hospital built a 10-story tower, totaling $220 million, that will be home to 750 new jobs, and Mon General Hospital opened a three building, 150,000 square foot, office campus.

    These recession-resistant sectors make Morgantown, and other communities in north central WV, such as Bridgeport, attractive investment options that garner attention from out-of-state money. This is evidenced in several large deals in 2016. We would be remiss without mentioning the new I-79 interchange in Morgantown. Metro News states, “A study of the entire development on both sides of the interstate predicted a $1 billion economic impact on the region annually. The impact study indicated the TIF district and incoming developers could support 9,900 jobs by 2025.”

    Jobs lead to disposal income which ultimately drives an economy. Although there were economic spotlights to be proud of, 2016 was a challenging year for many commercial real estate sectors. Much of the sluggish business climate in WV and southwestern PA can be attributed to the energy sector slowdown. The rapid decline of coal, coupled with the oversupply of natural gas/oil, negatively affected this region’s economy. Decreased energy-sector demand for office and industrial space led to increased vacancy. As a direct result of this climate, restaurant receipts, retail sales and hotel occupancy all followed suit. Energy sector downturn hurt. In our home base of Morgantown and much of north central WV, there was enough positive economic activity to downplay these challenges.

    2017 OUTLOOK

    What is on the horizon for 2017? Well, for many, the presidential election was seen as a pro-energy and pro-business election. Time will tell on both. However, in the last two months, BDR saw an uptick in office and industrial demand via phone call leads. We feel this trend will continue as we move into what we believe will be a healthier economic year with less regulation and greater consumer confidence. OPEC’s announcement to reduce oil supply is a major win for our region. Rising oil and gas prices result in greater drilling activity which leads to more jobs. Average consumers dislike paying more at the pump, but for WV and the Marcellus/Utica Shale territory, paying a little more in gas results in hundreds of high-paying jobs that support regional economic growth.

    Looking to the new year, BDR is poised to capitalize on north central WV’s growth potential, including the energy, education, medical, and government sectors.

    As you sit down to set your 2017 personal and company goals, remember this important quote: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” From our team to yours, we wish you a healthy, prosperous and joyful 2017.