WV Farm Bureau Magazine December 2015 - Page 9

A midst the slowdown in oil and natural gas production in West Virginia, the industry remains a strong and vibrant part of our state’s economy. Much of the blame for the current slowdown can be attributed to the Saudis for flooding the American oil and natural gas market, thus driving the price of natural gas to artificially low levels. American companies are reluctant to invest in new drilling while these low prices exist. Now is the time for the oil and natural gas companies to drill and seek an expanded transportation infrastructure. We are at a point in Marcellus and Utica operations that we must now build extensive pipelines to move large volumes of oil and natural gas coming from the ground. In a recent speech to the Parkersburg/ Wood County Area Economic Development Roundtable, Senator Joe Manchin suggested the state should directly invest in building major transportation pipelines throughout the state. By doing so, West Virginia would be ahead of the game once drilling resumes. Currently, seven pipeline infrastructure projects are on the table, encompassing 1992 miles of new pipeline expansion. The first of these projects is expected to be complete in December 2015. Columbia Pipeline and Energy Transfer expect completion of two more pipelines in 2017; and Dominion, EQT, and Columbia have 2018 completion dates on four other pipeline projects. The cost of these projects is estimated to be $16.7 Billion and will give the industry the capacity to move 14.5 Billion Cubic Feet of natural gas per day. West Virginia has 1751 horizontal wells in Marcellus, and 2 additional Utica wells as of September 2015. Marcellus production exceeded 16 Billion Cubic Feet per day in June 2015, and Marcellus/Utica combined natural gas production currently exceeds 18 Billion Cubic Feet per day. Utica wells are currently producing at a rate three to four times that of Marcellus. EQT Corporation has permits to drill the states third Utica well in Wetzel County; and if their past history is an indicator, it will be a very prolific well. They currently have the highest output natural gas well in history, producing 73 Million Cubic Feet of natural gas per day in Green County Pennsylvania. West Virginia must be prepared to handle the production rates that are anticipated by the industry. The total number of wells, and the high volume of production makes investment the right decision for West Virginia. The anticipated growth will bring investment, jobs, economic development, and prosperity to a state that has, for too long, been at the bottom. The West Virginia Legislature is working hard to promote policies that will enhance and promote this valuable resource. The House Committee on Energy is working with outside agencies and organizations to assist the expansion in a way that is fair to all concerned. The Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia (IOGA) and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) have contributed volumes of information on technology and development related to future expansion. The Committee’s involvement with the West Virginia Farm Bureau, West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization, West Virginia Land and Mineral Owners Association, and the Royalty Owners Association of West Virginia has established a balanced fairness in any legislation that is presented. Because all interests are served, the oil and natural gas industry in West Virginia will flourish, and our state will be a better place to work and raise a family. Properly managed, West Virginia’s economy can and w