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Better Together, Forgotten Ohio River Communities Unite to Bring Back Jobs

Image: Better Together, Forgotten Ohio River Communities Unite to Bring Back Jobs

By    |   Thursday, 19 Oct 2017 02:43 PM

Ask Andy Kuhn, Executive Director of the Washington County, Ohio Ports Authority why he is involved with Shale Crescent USA, (A non- profit, non-governmental organization made up local community and business leaders whose mission is to bring high wage jobs and prosperity back to the Mid- Ohio Valley) he will quickly respond, “The existing process doesn’t work for us.”

Lindsey Kerr Piersol, Executive Director of the Wood County West Virginia Economic Development Authority says, “This initiative is helping to bring together two counties (Wood County, WV and Washington County, Ohio) separated by a river, that have desperately needed to work together for years in order to strengthen our economy. I think we are well on our way to a partnership that can only benefit the Mid- Ohio Valley. (MOV)”

Typically, a company or their consultant prepares package based on the site criteria they desire and sends it to the State Economic Development Authority who sends it to the counties or local communities requesting information on sites they have that meet the criteria. The locals return this Request for Information (RFI) to the State who will add any tax credits or economic development incentives and return it to the company or site selection consultant. The locals never hear anything again unless one of their sites makes the short list. So far that has not happened in the MOV.

The business and community leaders that started Shale Crescent USA looked at history and understood that it was cheap abundant energy that brought industries like the glass industry to the Mid- Ohio Valley in the 1800s. This happened again after World War II when the long-haul pipelines built during the depression brought natural gas from Texas and Oklahoma to the MOV. Many of the petrochemical plants here today were built after World War II. Starting in the 1970s our “energy crisis” began. The Middle East became the source for our oil. Natural gas was in short supply. We were running out of it. When the northeast and MOV lost its energy advantage industry left for places like China, Japan, the Middle East and Europe where either labor and/or energy was cheaper creating the “rust belt”.

The World has changed again. Mid-Ohio Valley and northeast US, that we now call The Shale Crescent Region has the lowest natural gas prices in the industrialized world! This is because the largest natural gas field in the entire world, the Marcellus and Utica Shale is under our feet and is capable of supplying our reindustrialization. If eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia were a country, they would be the third largest natural gas producer in the world.

Based on US Government Energy information Agency (EIA) Data in 2010 the region of eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania produced about 3% of our nations natural gas. Today that number is over 30% and is expected to grow to 35% by 2020. More important all of the GROWTH in new US natural gas supply is here!

The USA became the leading world natural gas producer in 2012. The USA is still #1.

THE LEADING WORLD GAS PRODUCERS in 2016 based on EIA Data in Billions of Cubic Meters

  1. USA 750 BCM
  2. RUSSIA 628 BCM
  3. IRAN 190 BCM
  4. QATAR 167 BCM
  5. CANADA 165 BCM
  6. China 137 BCM

When Shale Crescent (the group promoting economic development) attended the World Petrochemical Conference in Houston in March of 2017 most petrochemical companies knew that the USA now has the cheapest most abundant natural gas in the world. What they did not know was that most of the growth of US natural gas production and the cheapest natural gas in the USA is in the Shale Crescent Region. What this means is that site selectors didn’t consider the Shale Crescent’s energy advantage when looking for a petrochemical plant site.

The goal of Shale Crescent is to market the region so that companies would consider the region for building new or expanding existing facilities. If a new facility is built anywhere in the region everyone benefits on both sides of the river. Shale Crescent is marketing and selling directly to the decision makers at petrochemical and energy intensive manufacturing companies. They are the people that need to know how locating in the Shale Crescent can positively impact their bottom line.

Andy Kuhn remarked, “You (Shale Crescent) are going directly to the corporate decision makers. That isn’t how it is being done today.” But that is how it was done in the late 1800s and post-World War II and it worked. It is working successfully for Shale Crescent today.

Currently natural gas liquids (NGLs), primarily ethane, propane and butane are being shipped via pipeline to Marcus Hook, PA for shipment to Europe. Eastern Canada and the Gulf Coast are served via other pipelines. A recent study said that despite these shipments out of the region the northeast still had enough NGLs to supply at least 5 ethane crackers. This is important because ethane comes from natural gas that is priced domestically, currently at $18 per BOE. Most crackers around the world use naphtha from crude oil that is priced globally, currently around $50 per barrel. This gives the Shale Crescent a big cost advantage.

Shell is currently the only company building a cracker in the northeast. That could change as companies begin to realize the advantages the Shale Crescent has. In addition to cheap abundant energy and feedstocks the Shale Crescent also offers; proximity to 50% of the US and Canadian markets, abundant fresh water like the Ohio River and an experienced petrochemical and construction workforce, with training programs. Ohio ranks #1 in US Plastics Manufacturing employment. The Shale Crescent region also has good rail and river access to ocean ports.

Hurricane Harvey pointed out another advantage for the northeast. The Shale Crescent doesn’t get hurricanes like the Gulf Coast where refineries and petrochemical plants are being shut down because of the storm. It makes sense for the USA to diversify petrochemical production so that a major hurricane can’t seriously damage or shut it down. The best place we believe for this to happen is the Shale Crescent.

Communities on both sides of the River are supporting Shale Crescent. A company looking at the Shale Crescent Region has access to the sites from ALL the MOV area communities. Through our network we help a company with almost anything they need from natural gas, employees, contractors, utilities to community and state leaders. Both Ohio and West Virginia state leaders have been supportive. Shale Crescent just wants to see industry come by to the Mid- Ohio Valley. It doesn’t matter which state or county they choose.

As a high school coach and business leader I know that any group of people that is focused on the dream or vision is willing to work and doesn’t care who gets the credit can accomplish almost anything. The Ohio River Valley is made up of many strong communities. They understand that they are truly better together. Working as a Team all things are possible.

Greg Kozera is the Director of Marketing for Shale Crescent USA. He has over 40 years of experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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forgotten, ohio, river, communities, jobs
Thursday, 19 Oct 2017 02:43 PM
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