Ohio’s Resurgent Natural Gas Industry Spends Millions to Set Up Shop The countryside in eastern Ohio once supplied John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil refineries in Cleveland 70 miles to the north. More than 6,500 conventional oil and gas wells have been drilled in Stark County over the decades, according to state records; most no longer yield enough fuel to market. But natural gas, buried in shale thousands of feet below the surface, is attracting more than $1 billion in private investment and is rapidly reviving the area as an energy producer. To prepare, market and transport the natural gas, companies are building an expansive network of regional field offices, processing plants and other infrastructure. The Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which is based in Oklahoma City and is the largest developer of the shale formation, known as the Utica Shale, is building a field office on a 291–acre site in Louisville that it bought last year for $7.11 million. The project’s centerpiece is a five-story, 85,000 square-foot office tower that is scheduled to be completed early next year. The company is also building a 55,000 square-foot receiving and maintenance building and a 6,000 square-foot repair shop. Chesapeake’s development plan also calls for a second phase of construction to build a rail spur and eight storage silos to move sand from rail cars to trucks. Chesapeake employs 550 people in eastern Ohio, according to company records.

Energy executives have said drilling and production are being impeded by a shortage of processing plants and pipelines. Chesapeake and other leading production and processing companies are attacking that problem with an infrastructure development program never seen in eastern Ohio. With all this energy-related construction, industry executives believe that Ohio will produce two to three billion cubic feet of processed gas daily within the decade. The shale also contains more valuable “wet gas,” which is methane permeated with ethane, propane, pentane and butane, that can be separated and used to manufacture chemicals, plastics and liquid fuels like gasoline. With a price range of $30 to $95 a barrel, depending on the product, processing and marketing wet gas can be very profitable. NiSource Inc.’s Midstream and Minerals Group and Mark West Energy Partners are both working with groups to build processing plants in counties in eastern Ohio. Chesapeake’s production from present and future wells will make it the largest customer for a $900 million network of pipelines and processing plants under development by EV Energy Partners, Access Midstream and M3 Midstream/Momentum. To learn more about the resurgence of the natural gas industry in Stark County and eastern Ohio, click on this New York Times article.

Shale Boom Sparks U.S. Industrial Revival When Wolfgang Eder and his team started researching sites for a new plant for Voestalpine, the Austrian steelmaker he heads, they had 17 sites in eight countries on their list. This past month, after more than a year of looking, they settled on Texas, after a boom in the production of natural gas from shale extraction brought gas prices in the state down to just a quarter of what companies paid in Europe. With cheap shale gas making the United States a magnet for industrial companies like Voestalpine, many economists are positing a return to industrialization for the world’s biggest economy after more than a decade of consumption-led growth. “America is currently seeing a renaissance of production,” said Felix Schuler, a partner at Germany–based Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which specializes in the industrial goods sector. U.S. natural gas prices are $4 per million British thermal units—having touched a decade low of $2 last year - well below its 10–year average of about $5.70 and below prices of around $14 in Britain and almost $17 in Asia. Cheap natural gas not only cuts costs for companies that use it as a raw material or feedstock for other products such as chemicals; it also means lower power prices as utilities use more gas to generate electricity. The National Association of Manufacturers in the United States estimates the shale boom will add one-million manufacturing jobs in the country by 2025, as long as natural gas price increases remain moderate and industry regulation is favorable. To read more about foreign companies making decisions to invest in the United States, click on this Reuters article.

A Decade of Growth Now Puts Stark County’s College-Going Rate on a Competitive Basis with NationThe National Student Clearinghouse data show that 73% of Stark County’s Class of 2010 has gone to college, outpacing the national average of 68%. Stark’s new figure represents nearly a 50% rate of increase over a single decade. This figure is underscored by 10 years of growth in the number and quality of post-secondary opportunities for the county’s high school students, such as dual credit, Early College High School, Advanced Placement and College Tech Prep courses. To learn more about Stark County’s impressive improvement, click on this Stark Education Partnership newsletter.

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Stark Development Board

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