Weighing in on the scale of energy production and use

Published Oct 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm (Updated Oct 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm)

In the fall of 2007, when their work in the Marcellus Shale was only two years old, executives from Range Resources predicted that some day, they would make Pennsylvania a net exporter of natural gas.

At the time, that idea seemed unattainable if not impossible, but Range’s projection turned out to be true in just a few years.

In the ensuing years, the flow of gas found its way through Pennsylvania and to a variety of points well beyond its boundaries and currently is making its way to several overseas markets.

Our story on cx-energy this month underscores how a traditional way of arranging leases with landowners – usually through landmen representing drilling companies – has also been technologically transformed to include buyers from around the world.

Just as horizontal drilling technology revolutionized the way natural gas is efficiently extracted from rock, the internet and its social media outlets, coupled with GIS mapping software, are now placing oil and gas leasing opportunities in front of a global market.

Speaking of the importance of considering size and scale and the role technology plays in that dynamic, our story on the first installment of this season’s Washington & Jefferson College’s Energy Lecture Series sheds abundant light on the ways energy usage can be conserved without significant changes to our lifestyle.

Our coverage of the recent Shale Insight series in Pittsburgh covers the natural gas industry’s need for additional pipeline capacity in the Keystone State to reach more markets for the gas being produced in the tri-state region.

That capacity and its ethane byproduct will also be providing the feedstock for the ethane cracker plant to be built by Shell in Beaver County. While construction is slated sometime for next year and won’t be completed for three years (the scale factor, again), the opportunities that are expected to emerge across the region were the topic of discussion recently among Dennis Davin, secretary of the State Department of Community and Economic Development and officials in Greene County, as they take a long-term look at the impact this project will have there.

Despite the positive economic impact natural gas production has had throughout the region, Jeff Kotula’s column expresses the need for a consistent energy policy coming out of Washington, D.C., for both natural gas and U.S.-produced oil, which also has become a world competitor, again thanks to horizontal drilling.

We’ve always believed that when it comes to energy, the “all-of-the-above” approach - natural gas, coal, solar, wind, hydro and nuclear - makes the most sense.

While renewables offer the best possibilities for freeing us from carbon and other types of pollution, the world may operate for some time on this multiple-menu approach to energy.

As the Associated Press story on Australia’s recent experience with one of its states losing total power from devastating storms underscores, the various energy sources may have to work in tandem for awhile longer.

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