Platts – Now Serving The Oil and Gas Industry: Just About Everyone

By Starr Spencer

The website www.marcellusonmainstreet.org  lists some specific businesses that have benefited from Marcellus Shale drilling. Not only is it an eye-opening primer on just how the drilling boom in general contributes to local economies and offers opportunities for new enterprises of every stripe–including some you’d never contemplated–but it gives a sense of a community’s essential interdependencies.

Let’s face it – the so-called shale drilling revolution is exciting to witness.  But since every other month another  “next hot new play” seems to surface, it may be easy to overlook the backstory of just what a tremendous economic net the shale phenomenon has cast–not just on industry and producing areas, but virtually everywhere.

It’s downright mind-boggling to consider just how far-reaching an impact these plays–both emerging and established–are having on the entire landscape of US commerce.

Jobs from shale and other unconventional drilling are being created not just in the “awl bidniss”–as Texas affectionately refer to one of its most-beloved industries–but across a very broad spectrum of other bidnisses. Water recyclers, environmental consulting firms, physicians–even landscapers and local hardware stores, for Pete’s sake, are finding more customers because of bustling activity in shale and other fields that are being developed unconventionally.

Hardware stores?  The oil and gas extraction process “involves a lot of nuts and bolts and rope and you name it,” Travis Windle, spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, told Platts. The Marcellus is one of the US’ most prolific shales, found in mainly in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

While many times these items are purchased in bulk, “obviously local hardware stores and other suppliers provide a great deal of tools [involved] in the process” of oil and gas exploitation, Windle said.

Hardware stores also have other types of customers expressly because of Marcellus work, he said. “Hotels, diners, restaurants and other businesses are being built because populations are growing” in oil- and gas-prone areas, said Windle. These establishments “likely use local hardware stores as well” for pipes, tools and other items used in building.

As for landscapers, “we’re required by state regulations [in Pennsylvania] to reclaim well sites, and that entails a great deal of landscaping to bring a several-acre pad drilling site as close to how we found it as possible,” he added. “We want to make sure our footprint as we’re leaving is very small, and work with land and mineral owners to assure that.”

“It’s really countless businesses, large and small” that contribute to the economy–all because of stepped-up drilling, said Windle.

Presumably, the same might apply to the growing list of shale and unconventional plays across the US, Canada and around the world.  These include the giant established plays like the Bakken and Eagle Ford shales in Shale in North Dakota/Montana and South Texas respectively, and also emerging ones such as the Mississippi Lime in Oklahoma/Kansas, the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale in Louisiana/Mississippi, the Duvernay Shale in western Canada, the Niobrara Shale in Colorado, the Vaca Muerta in Argentina and on and on. Just multiply dozens to hundreds of small businesses or service providers that cater to each of them, times the number of emerging plays, and you get an idea of the incredibly vast number of diverse businesses that owe at least a slice of their revenues to oil and gas drilling.

Apartment finders and land brokers, waste recyclers, and all kinds of inspection services come to immediate mind as a few of the non-petroleum services. So do Wal-Marts and fast-food joints. But how about the thousand and one small conveniences and indulgences that make up the stuff and substance of daily life and make it run more smoothly–or offer more personal fulfillment?

The website www.marcellusonmainstreet.org  lists some specific businesses that have benefited from Marcellus Shale drilling. Not only is it an eye-opening primer on just how the drilling boom in general contributes to local economies and offers opportunities for new enterprises of every stripe–including some you’d never contemplated–but it gives a sense of a community’s essential interdependencies.

Businesses listed on the site include dry cleaners, cosmetic dentists, eyeglass frame providers, jewelers, embroidery providers (for work uniforms) florists, balloon and party shops, gift stores, chiropractors, hatters, leathersmiths, fire protection equipment providers, financial planners and tax specialists, a motorcycle and accessories store, a wood furniture shop. Also on the list is a service called Rigmaids that cleans not only living quarters on rigs, but at apartments and homes.  There’s even a day spa and a provider of gourmet toffee, marshmallows and chocolates.

Heck, even roughnecks and tool pushers need a sweet touch at the end of a long day at the well site.

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