Shale Energy Alliance touts ways to build the oil and gas industry

PARKERSBURG — Area oil and gas company representatives gathered Wednesday at the Blennerhassett Hotel to learn how the Shale Energy Alliance can make a difference and make the industry grow.

Dave Caliguiri, with the Shale Energy Alliance, said the alliance is dedicated to the development of the oil and gas industry in the region.

“We are a group of committed stakeholders, this includes producers, landowners, lease holders and others,” he said. “The Shale Energy Alliance is dedicated to preserving the safe, responsible and rational development of our nation’s natural energy resources. We are committed to fostering and promoting the positive benefits of shale development and hopefully, one day, getting us closer to energy independence.”

Caliguiri said the group wants to help the industry grow across the region.

“You, our members, work tirelessly every single day to make sure your neighbors have the energy they need to turn on the lights, cook a meal and heat a house — and we’re doing it locally.”

Caliguiri said the members of the alliance work together.

“One of those folks is energy transportation,” he said. “They do business with many of you in this room, they haul water and other services to this industry and they also buy vehicles from local businesses. We are a family united together to help one another and our neighbors.”

“The Shale Energy Alliance makes sure our community leaders, our decision makers, our regulators and the media have the most up-to-date information and understanding of the positive effects of the natural gas industry. That’s who we are and what we can do,” Caliguiri.

Lynette Stevens, a director with the Shale Energy Alliance, said the group is looking forward to working with the 2018 Legislature.

Stevens said the next session is their opportunity to put natural gas legislation on the books.

“Rig counts and production are down in West Virginia,” she said. “Our best example is in Pennsylvania, where natural gas increased by 2,000 percent in the last 10 years.”

Stevens said for the people that means thousands employed, lower gas bills, some lowered by 43 percent.

“We are dedicated to staying in touch and understanding what is discussed at the Capitol during the session,” she said. “We want to connect you and keep you up-to-date on that information.”

Delegate John Kelly, R-Wood, said he sees the Legislature working to build up the industry.

“House Bill No. 1 will take care of between 80 and 90 percent of problems the oil and gas companies and developers in the state have,” Kelly said. “Every time you drill a well you’re going to see more money.

After you get drilling rigs started and every time you drill a well that hits, you will see an increase in the royalties paid, and increasing property taxes. It’s just the way it is.”

Kelly said the region is at the start of an oil and gas boom cycle.

“We are at the beginning of an oil and gas boom,” he said. “I will tell you the problems county governments, state governments and city governments have in West Virginia all comes back to one thing and that’s money.

“The answer that every one of the problems I forsee for cities, counties and the state is just one and half miles from where we stand today,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that is straight down where the Marcellus and Utica shale formations are found.

“That answers all the problems and all of the financial issues we have in West Virginia,” he said.

Kelly said the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has all the regulations for fracking in place.

“If you drill a well it’s going to be fracked,” he said. “People will sit back and say they are opposed to fracking but what they don’t realize is we’ve been fracking wells since 1948 in West Virginia.”

Kelly said the materials and equipment for fracking have changed since then.

“Environmentally it has changed, it has gotten better,’ he said “There are better processes, better chemicals, there is better everything in fracking than there was 10 years ago.”

Kelly said when it comes to the future of the industry and what it means for the state, “hang on, it’s coming.”

“When we get the infrastructure in the ground, get it all in place along with a storage hub, hang on for the ride.”

Kelly said that may be good news for a proposed cracker plant in Washington, W.Va.

“That cracker plant in Washington Bottom is not dead,” he said. “They have not pulled the plug on it. They are waiting on one thing everybody else is waiting for, infrastructure.”

Kelly said a local storage facility that can store large amounts of gas and deliver it without having to move it many miles and then bring it back will be more cost-effective.

He added the area will not be shut down by tropical weather like the facilities along the Gulf Coast.

“This is a great deal for West Virginia, it’s a great deal for the area, from the Mid-Ohio Valley along with Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania,” Kelly said.