October 21, 2015
The first annual Tri-State Shale Summit was held October 12-13, 2015 in Morgantown, WV. The summit was a collaborative effort on behalf of the states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio to highlight and discuss development opportunities in the Marcellus & Utica Shale region.
As part of the summit, Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed an agreement pledging regional support and enhanced cooperation to ensure the continued development of natural gas in the Appalachian Basin.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the three Appalachian Basin states have accounted for 85 percent of the increase in natural gas production in the United States since 2012. In addition, the Marcellus Shale will yield up to 147 trillion cubic feet of natural gas by 2040, and predictions indicate the Utica Shale could exceed that.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said the issues and opportunities for this growing industry do not recognize state lines making collaboration essential. As part of the agreement, the three states would work together to support infrastructure needed for delivery of natural gas, attract new businesses, strengthen their workforces and encourage academic institutions to collaborate on research. Environmentally sustainable practices and emergency response preparation will also be addressed.
The summit included panel discussions that featured experts in areas of workforce and education, manufacturing and research and innovation. PolymerOhio Executive Director, Bruce Fawcett, one of the speakers at the summit said “This is a ‘Generational Opportunity’ for our region with the potential to have an enormous impact on the economy. However, as with any large opportunity it takes time to be fully realized with planning, cooperation and execution critical for success. This summit lays the foundation for a level of cooperation within the region that will ensure the value is maximized.”
Cooperation is Key
Cooperation was the theme of the summit, and a hot topic was the need to bring an ethane cracker to the area to eliminate needless burning of ethane. Economic groups in all three states understand the positive economic impact a cracker would bring to the entire region, regardless of which state it resides.
Although, according to a recent Columbus Business First article, bringing a cracker to the area is not an easy task. Fawcett stated in the article “people in the plastics and polymer industry are still looking over the fence a little bit. There’s a lot there between here and there – whether it’s building a cracker or sorting out another pipeline. The opportunity is understanding what needs to take place between now and when we’re ready to start capitalizing on what’s coming out of the ground here.”
Companies need to start thinking now about how to capitalize on this opportunity and how to leverage the resources within the polymer cluster to their benefit. The region’s strengthened competitive advantage due to lower energy costs and increased investment in petrochemical infrastructure are the most obvious near term benefits.
The more complex issues that can yield profitable growth opportunities come from capitalizing export and/or reshoring that will result from a strong global competitive position. Also, we can expect relative pricing of raw material to change as ethane displaces naphtha as feed stock to the petrochemical facilities. Consider the following questions when looking at how this will impact your business:
- What will be your risks and opportunities as the region develops these resources?
- How can you capitalize on being located in a polymer cluster that will span oil & gas extraction through polymer processing to the final customer base – all within a few hundred miles?
All indicators point to a very bright future for the region, the industry and all facets of the supply chain that it impacts. For more information on the summit, check out the panelist slides and additional content here. You can also watch video clips from the event here.
PolymerOhio is dedicated to accelerating growth, competitiveness and innovation in Ohio’s Polymer Industry. Our goal is to keep you informed and help you navigate through any market changes that could significantly impact your supply chain. Contact us to get the conversation started!