2019 Outlook: Steady Energy Growth to Drive Pa. Economic Expansion, Environmental Progress

Pennsylvania is blessed with an enormous energy advantage that gives our region the ability to compete and win economically, grow good-paying local jobs and improve our environment, MSC’s Dave Spigelmyer said during a series of year-end press interviews. “We’ve gone from a period of cautious optimism to now living an energy renaissance,” Spigelmyer told the Business Times.

With abundant, clean natural gas, Pennsylvania’s future is as bright as it’s ever been. The Commonwealth is welcoming a wave of manufacturing job expansion, union halls are at full employment as skilled building trades men and women expand Pennsylvania’s energy infrastructure, and consumers are saving a bundle on home energy all alongside continued clean air progress.  

Here’s what they’re saying on the outlook for the year ahead:

Look ahead: Slow and steady growth in natural gas will define 2019

Things [aren’t] ebbing here in Appalachia, said Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer: A year ago, there was a cautious optimism about the prospects for the shale industry. “We’ve gone from a period of cautious optimism to now living in an energy renaissance,” Spigelmyer said. “We’re beginning to see the downstream benefits that have been extraordinary for workers, extraordinary for consumers.”

Spigelmyer sees a lot of strength in the industry, including the petrochemical plant under construction by Royal Dutch Shell in Beaver County, and the potential for others. Not to mention the new manufacturing opportunities afforded by natural gas, he said. “We’ve already landed a number of HQ2s in Pennsylvania with this industry,” Spigelmyer said. (12/31/18)

Efficiencies, Pipelines Help Propel 2018 Gas Production

Natural gas production in Pennsylvania is expected to reach a new high by year’s end: 6 trillion cubic feet. Drillers extracted 13 percent more gas in the first three quarters of 2018 than during the same period the previous year.

MSC president David Spigelmyer said the uptick is due in part to efficiency. Operators are drilling longer wells that extend on average for 10,000 feet horizontally underground. Plus, he said, more pipelines such as the Atlantic Sunrise in eastern Pennsylvania are coming online, giving drillers greater ability to transport their gas to market and making the Marcellus Shale more competitive with other shale plays. “We’re starting to see additional investments across Pennsylvania to modernize our pipeline infrastructure, not only to get gas to consumers here in Pennsylvania, but to get gas to consumers across our country and, in some cases, to get gas to consumers across the globe,” he said.

Spigelmyer pointed to plans for more gas-fired power plants and projects like Shell’s ethane cracker under construction in Beaver County. Those factors help position Appalachia to become a hub for natural gas liquids. “The tag as a hub has followed areas that have been robust in the development of the resource,” Spigelmyer said. “We now fit that role.” (12/26/18)

Washington Co. Commissioner “Energized by Energy”

The chairman of the Washington County commissioners is optimistic about a number of prospects. But he is especially energized by energy. “I think next year will be great for that sector,” Commissioner Larry Maggi said. “One problem is the transmission of (natural gas) with the pipeline issues. But we now have a market for that product and demand will grow because of the cracker plant (being built in Beaver County).”

MSC president Dave Spigelmyer said natural gas is a powerful and plentiful resource in Washington and Greene counties. “Pennsylvania is approaching 25 percent of the nation’s production. More than one-third of our power generation is from natural gas. We’ve gone from a level of cautious optimism to a bit of an energy renaissance. I think over time, we’ll see new investment in manufacturing plants across the region.” Referring to the southwest corner of the state, he said, “The greatest concentration of rig activity is in Greene. And Washington County is playing an enormous role in the cracker. Without the support of Washington County, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio, that facility doesn’t get built.”(12/31/18)

Spigelmyer: American natural gas will help solve global energy poverty

“Energy access unlocks human potential, and the United States, as the world’s top energy producer, has a moral imperative to leverage its energy abundance as a force for good around the world … The reduction of global energy poverty is a direct path to enriching lives, fostering security and stability, improving public health, driving economic growth, and achieving environmental goals. Countries starving for energy, according to World Development Indicators, struggle economically. … U.S. exports of LPG and liquefied natural gas are playing an increasing role in tackling the energy poverty tragedy. … We are fortunate to live in an energy-secure, resource-rich nation. America’s energy abundance puts us in a position to be the leader in tackling global energy poverty.” (12/27/18)

Spigelmyer: Natural gas cleanly powers our modern world

“The United States is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer and the global leader in reducing carbon emissions, according to the EPA. These are not isolated achievements. Expanded production of our energy resources has allowed clean-burning natural gas to meet an increasingly larger share of the nation’s electricity demand while improving air quality in the process. Since 2005, U.S. natural gas production has increased 68 percent, while carbon emissions tied to the power sector have fallen 28 percent, according to federal government data. The responsible development of the Marcellus and Utica shale is opening environmental doors that were unimaginable a decade ago.

Neither a transport nor a bridge fuel, natural gas is a destination fuel that has a vital part to play in how we continue to power our modern world. Our industry, born on the back of private investment and entrepreneurial spirit, is constantly investing, innovating and creating new partnerships to meet rising energy demand. Similarly, through bipartisan collaboration and the development of energy solutions, it can lead the charge in achieving climate progress not from Paris, but from Pittsburgh.” (12/31/18)

WATCH: Pennsylvania’s Energy Advantage – a 2018 look back highlighting the local and national economic, environmental and security benefits of American natural gas.