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Tioga County looks to reap economic benefits of natural gas deal

The purchase of Royal Dutch Shell LLC by National Fuel Gas Co. could mean a real boost for the Tioga County economy.

“The company coming here is looking to develop the fields,” Tioga County Commissioner Erick Coolidge said. “My understanding is there will be a couple of (drilling) rigs coming in.”

Shell announced last month it had reached a deal to divest natural gas assets holdings for a reported $million.

The purchase amounts to some 200,000 acres in Tioga County, many miles of gathering pipelines and water pipelines, and other infrastructure.

The deal is expected to close in July.

“National Fuel’s acquisition of these high-quality assets in one of the most prolific areas in Appalachia will provide the company with a unique and highly strategic opportunity to further its integrated development approach in the region,” David P. Bauer, company president and chief executive officer, said. “With significant economies of scale provided by Shell’s large Tioga County acreage footprint, which is contiguous to our existing development areas, along with significant, integrated gathering facilities, and valuable pipeline capacity, Shell’s assets are a perfect fit for the company’s diversified business model, and provide meaningful synergies with our existing operations.”

With Tioga County recently having taken some economic hits with the loss of jobs, the news of the National Fuel Gas expanding its footprint comes as good news.

Coolidge noted the recent announced closing of the Waupaca Foundry in Lawrenceville, which employs 200 people.

The plant, set to close in August, produces automotive suspension products.

Operations are expected to be moved to other company plants.

“When Shell is in your community, that is a presence,” Coolidge said. “Personally, I feel it’s a step in the right direction.”

He noted, however, that the company will be expected to abide by environmental guidelines with its drilling practices.

“There is a return for investment they will make here,” he said.

Among the company’s holdings is Seneca Resources Co. which already has a presence in Tioga County.

National Fuel Gas Co. was incorporated in 1902 and is based in Williamsville, New York.

“They have a good history,” Coolidge said.

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