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Shale Gas Conference Kicks Off With Pipelines

Mark Nootbaar
90.5 WESA

More than 1,300 energy industry representatives are in downtown Pittsburgh this week for the annual Shale Insight Conference that this year is focusing on getting the gas from the well to the user.

Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer told a crowd gathered inside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center that the Pittsburgh region is lacking when it comes to pipelines and other infrastructure needed to get the gas to market.

That drives up the cost to transport the gas and drives down the price paid to producers, he said.

As of Wednesday morning, gas was only fetching $1.20 per million British Thermal Units (MMBtu) in Pennsylvania, but it costs $2.67 at the Henry Hub in Louisiana.

“That erosion is a result of not having the infrastructure to gather that gas and get that gas to key consuming regions of Pennsylvania and of the broader market west, north, south and east,” Spigelmyer said.

For the first time, Shale Insight conference officially includes theWest Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.

“This conference is about a collaborative effort,” said Ohio Executive Vice President Sean Bennett. “These (shale region) boundaries cross borders and we have to look at it that way… because this opportunity is what’s going to really invigorate the economies in southeaster Ohio, western PA , as well as all of West Virginia.”

Presidential candidates from both major parties were invited to speak at the event. Only Republican Donald Trump accepted. He will close the event Thursday.

“There is no bigger issue today in our economy than energy,” Spigelmyer said. “These are issues every American has on their front burner right now. They know that energy is a driver for the opportunities for Americans to be affluent, to create wealth, to create benefit and opportunity for our citizens.”

As the industry turns its attention to building infrastructure, detractors have done the same and are now working to stop construction through protests and legislation. Spigelmyer said government policies should not pick one energy source over another.

“We just heard one of our power generators talk about how important it is to… have diversity in their fuel mix,” Spigelmyer said.  “To take one fuel source — whether it be renewables, whether it be nuclear, whether it be gas, whether it be coal — and say, ‘We’re going to dictate that one of those fuels is going to be the driver forward,’ it’s a short-sighted policy decision.”