In an increasingly integrated world it becomes difficult to distinguish where one domain ends and another begins. While the shale industry is just emerging from its developmental stage, the chemistry industry has long impacted production and manufacturing. Now, in Pennsylvania, we are witnessing the formation of an integrated relationship between these two industries.
The Marcellus shale deposit extends from Virginia to New York, covering approximately ⅔ of Pennsylvania. Now that the technology allowing us to access shale gas exists, the market is rapidly widening and Pennsylvania’s energy industry is becoming more self-reliant. A 2012 study conducted by Wells Fargo Securities estimates that economic activities concerning shale gas will create approximately 570,000 jobs by 2020.1 Many of these jobs fall outside the energy industry, which makes Pennsylvania a prospective place of investment across a variety of different sectors. The Marcellus Shale Coalition projected that in 2013, total exploration and production pertaining to the shale industry was $13.5 billion.2
Shale natural gas has many uses including electricity generation and conversion to various chemical feedstocks. The increased amount of shale gas available has lowered electricity prices, bringing satisfaction to Pennsylvanians and inciting curiosity from outside corporations. The combination of lowered manufacturing costs and abundance of resource have brought Marcellus shale to the forefront of petrochemical companies’ agendas. They are presented with the opportunity to perpetuate both the growth of the shale market as well as their own production capabilities. Members of the chemical industry also have supplemental motivation to move to Pennsylvania. Companies using shale-based products and services will also want to take advantage of the reduced manufacturing costs brought about by cheaper electricity. Additionally, Pennsylvania is pushing further into the frontier of the global energy market. In 2008, before the Marcellus shale boom, Pennsylvania imported 75% of its natural gas. In June 2011, the state became a net exporter for natural gas for the first time in 100 years.3
It would be foolish for chemical companies to ignore these incentives. Pennsylvania’s transforming energy industry provides a gateway not only to a fastly-growing industry, but also to an emerging global marketplace. Shale natural gas is the shining beacon of hope for the domestic energy industry. It enables sister industries, such as those within the chemical field, to produce more output and become a part of a dynamic economy. Increases in chemical production positively impact many key export industries of the United States, such as machinery, electronic equipment, aerospace devices, and pharmaceuticals. With these observations it becomes evident that the increasing integration of the shale and chemical industries will continue to perpetuate Pennsylvania as an unstoppable force in the globalized world.
Meghan Gary, Bravo Group Communications Intern, Pittsburgh
1 “Pennsylvania State Energy Plan.” ENERGY = JOBS (2014): 17.Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Tomb Corbett, Governor. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.
2 Tm. “The Marcellus Shale: A Local Workforce with a National Impact.”FACT SHEET (n.d.): 2. Marcellus Shale Coalition. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.
3 “Pennsylvania State Energy Plan.” ENERGY = JOBS (2014): 17.Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Tomb Corbett, Governor. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.