Developing a New Natural Gas Infrastructure

Private industry is working to develop a new, natural gas infrastructure in Pennsylvania and beyond.  For instance, Clean Energy Fuel Corp’s new plans call for “America’s Natural Gas Highway.”  The nationwide project will develop about 150-natural gas fueling stations over the next three years.  “We are planning… to put stations in Carlisle, Mill Hall and Smithton, Pennsylvania for the national network,” says Clean Energy’s Vice President of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs Todd Campbell. 

July’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission report made several references to natural gas-fueled vehicles, and Governor Tom Corbett wants to develop Pennsylvania’s natural gas infrastructure.  “We need to encourage the development of markets for the use of that natural gas here in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said on a recent edition of “Ask the Governor” on Radio PA. 

“For instance along the Turnpike, we have all of the Sunoco’s along the Turnpike.  Just like there’s a diesel tank there, there should be a natural gas tank there.” 

Clean Energy is already operating natural gas fueling stations in 28-states, including Pennsylvania, but they mostly serve high-volume fleets like the ones found at airports or operated by trash haulers.  “I think the time where you and I are driving around in a natural gas car is probably five to ten years.  That’s probably a little optimistic,” Campbell says.  Regardless, he believes there is an industry out there waiting to be born.

Marcellus Shale

There’s More Natural Gas Down There Than First Thought

A new assessment from the US Geological Survey finds that the Marcellus Shale contains about 84-trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, but recoverable, natural gas.  That’s a 4,100% increase over 2002 figures.  “We’re learning much more about the Marcellus, geologically and scientifically,” says Marcellus Shale Coalition policy and communications director Steve Forde.  “We’re learning it is much more valuable and more prolific than anybody had imagined a decade ago.”

These numbers come on the heels of new state Department of Environmental information that indicates Marcellus Shale natural gas production has increased by 60% in just the past 6-months.  Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber says the gains aren’t just due to an increased number of wells, but more efficient drilling techniques as well. 

Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley

Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley

The coalition believes these reports affirm the sustainability of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania.  Speaking in Wilkes-Barre, Wednesday, Lt. Governor Jim Cawley said the natural gas industry and related businesses generated more than 72,000 new hires in PA over the past 18-months.  Cawley chaired the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, which issued 96-recommendations (including an impact fee) this summer.  That report is expected to receive considerable legislative attention this fall. 

Meanwhile, Governor Tom Corbett (R), former Governor Ed Rendell (D) and former Governor Tom Ridge (R) are all expected to speak at Shale Gas Insight 2011, an industry conference, next month in Philadelphia.