‘Natural gas is here to stay’

Energy industry officials say natural gas will continue to fuel the economy for years to come, but convincing more people of the benefits of the resource must be part of the equation.

George Stark, director of external affairs, Cabot Oil & Gas, told Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce members Thursday that the natural gas industry has come a long way in the roughly 10 years since drilling of the Marcellus Shale began.

Thanks to ever-improving drilling technology, an average single well in Susquehanna County produces up to 27 billion cubic feet of natural gas, a figure unheard of a decade ago.

“It’s booming in our area,” he said.

The industry is doing so well, in fact, that his own company is having problems filling vacant job slots.

But Stark said there is a need for the younger generation to understand the importance of natural gas.

Joe McGinn, of Energy Transfer Partners, a pipeline company, noted that the natural gas industry has huge impact in the way of good-paying jobs and lower energy costs.

Many states, he said, would “kill” to have natural gas.

Natural Gas Supply Association President Dena Wiggins said, “We really are as a country awash in natural gas.”

While Pennsylvania is the nation’s second largest producer of natural gas, neighboring New York maintains a moratorium on it.

That prevents pipelines needed for moving gas from being located in New York.

“We can’t get pipe through New York to serve the Northeast,” she said.

That has meant higher energy prices in New York and New England.

Wiggins said resistance to natural gas from those who push for renewable energy is well-funded and not going away.

“We are not 100 percent renewable in this country,” she said. “I don’t think the opposition has the answer. I really don’t think they have one.”

There will continue, Wiggins noted, to be plenty of natural gas for years to come including for exportation.

But convincing the next generation of the benefits of natural gas is important, she said.

Stark noted that Cabot exports worldwide including to markets in Japan.

“This is a commodity,” he said.

McGinn said, “We are 10 years into the natural gas resource revolution in the state.”