The Utica Shale could become more important to the state than the Marcellus Shale, said Robert Watson, associate professor emeritus of natural gas engineering and geo-environmental engineering at Penn State.That is because it has the potential to be commercially viable in counties in the northwestern portion of the state that are starving for economic development - places such as Venango, Butler, Mercer and Erie counties.Those counties once had manufacturing-based economies, already have a tradition of oil and gas development and are outside the developable area of the Marcellus Shale, Watson said."These counties that have suffered as rust belt counties will welcome the presence of high paying jobs and the development of unconventional shale resources," Watson said.
That puts Pittsburgh at the center of all the action. That's important to remember while chewing on all the rhetoric coming from the Marcellus Shale Coalition about the drilling ban in the city. To date, the MSC PR strategy is to make threats that make little economic sense. The bluster doesn't pass the sniff test and erodes the industry's credibility.