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Area has big stake in debate over natural gas exportation

Published: Thu, January 31, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

It’s not unusual for the Mahoning Valley’s congressmen to intercede on behalf of the steel and auto industries given their significance to the region’s economy. But when Reps. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, and Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, recently made a pitch for federal natural-gas export permits, it was a clear indication that they are sold on the hype about this area being on the threshold of an energy boom because of the Utica shale formation.

“We can either import oil or export gas,” said Ryan, a member of the powerful appropriations committee, during a visit last week to BP’s Ohio headquarters in North Jackson.

“America has an opportunity here to be the lead in natural-gas exports,” said Johnson, who also toured the headquarters. The Republicans control the House. “You’ve got other countries in other regions of the world that are already doing this.”

The congressmen have joined 107 others in signing a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu seeking the approval of natural-gas export permits to countries that don’t have free-trade agreements with the United States.

But while the congressional initiative has the support of the oil and gas industry, a coalition of manufacturers is urging the Obama administration not to open the door to fossil fuel exports.

More than a dozen companies have applied to sell up to 22.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to countries that don’t have free trade agreements with the U.S., according to Hearst Newspapers.

Government study

The debate between the proponents and opponents centers on a government-commissioned study. The oil and gas industry has eagerly embraced its key finding: Unlimited exports would broadly benefit the U.S. with up to $47 billion on new economic activity.

The manufacturing group, led by Dow Chemical Co. and featuring Alcoa Inc. and Eastman Chemical, notes that exports would cause price increases for companies that are big users of energy produced by natural gas, Hearst Newspapers reports.

In Congress, two powerful senators, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Ed Markey, D-Mass., contend that the study is based on old data about natural gas demand. The study also gives short shrift to the potential cost increase and harm to the chemical industry.

President Obama, who touted natural gas exploration while campaigning in this part of country last year, should let the energy secretary know that the Washington shuffle won’t work. The evaluation of the natural-gas export study must be put on a fast track.

The president should give regions like the Mahoning Valley, which has seen hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by major exploration entities to secure mineral rights from private property owners, the chance to be heard.

New frontier

The presence of BP and other national companies speaks to the potential of the area as the new frontier for oil and gas exploration.

It’s no accident that President Obama and Ohio Gov. John Kasich mention this fledging industry, especially because it’s in a region known for steel making and auto manufacturing.

Congressmen Ryan and Johnson are right in pushing the administration to expand the export of natural gas around the world.

For too long, the United States has been at the mercy of other countries for its energy needs. It’s time the tables were turned.


1GeorgeinYoungstown(76 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Exporting LNG seems to be at odds with the months - long messaging campaign from both government & industry claiming "Energy Independence."

But that's just the biggest in an endless supply of inconsistencies, p/r memes, and just plain lies regarding the promises from these corporations.

The most recent example, the case of Devon Energy, who is selling their assets in Ohio, inexplicably reasoning:

"The Utica / Point Pleasant play is currently in the early stages of appraisal and development. Regional well results are promising and there is growing confidence in the prospectivity of the play given very significant leasing and drilling activity."


If it's so "promising", then why the need to sell? Ah, this is revealed in another article:

"UTICA — Devon Energy has all but given up on its Utica Shale well outside of Utica."

"He [Devon spokesperson] said the reports from Devon’s wells in the western sections of the Utica Shale —including the Kirkpatrick Road site and a drill site in Ashland County — were “disappointing.” Producing natural gas and natural gas liquids, the sites failed to produce crude oil which is more profitable in today’s economy."


So the shell game continues - with profit the only value that matters. Hype the play now, in order to sell it while the selling is good. Actions running counter to the propaganda that's dished out on a daily basis from both sides of the mouth of industry - with our elected officials and media playing the compliant role of the gullible bystander on the street who falls for the shell game...

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2PBerry(1 comment)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Devon gave up on low cost gas to go for high cost oil - please read the WHOLE article. As did every E&P company in this area including PA. Companies would rather have a $3 million well pay out in 1 yr with oil than 3 yrs with Gas - all about $'s. Yes, exporting will help the local industry as it is happening in PA with the large numbers of distillate pipelines going to the east coast for export.

O&G industry is here to stay for the next 30 to 50 years in PA, NY and OH. It will provide cheap energy since these gas and oil plays are the largest in the world. Enjoy the ride and welcome the USA in becoming energy independent.

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3UticaShale(854 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

PBerry, don't give Georgi your two cents, he is not worth it.

Devon missed out in its eastern Ohio leases. Look at Gulfport, they produced Gushers. Georgi is most likely landless and sucks up energy like an elephant. He is so inept he doesn't grasp that the energy companies exist because he sucks it up constantly every day, he is in the matrix.

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4UticaShale(854 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

When I worked in the defence industry as a young engineer, we built the LNG tankers back in the 80's for importing NG to satisfy the energy suckers like George of Youngstown.
Now we have a chance to export and bring back the dollars that we also exported. It kills me how low we in Youngstown have dropped wherein some cannot see a blessing if it slammed them in the face.

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