Saturday, March 03, 2012

Marcellus Shale Talent Migration

The glut of natural gas is threatening to kill the Pennsylvania energy jobs boom. Or is it? The shift is on from shale gas drilling to shale oil drilling. High oil prices will do that. That's good news for the booming Utica Shale play in Eastern Ohio. In Marcellus Shale country, the buzz is about the transition away from dry gas to wet gas wells. Will the workers follow? That's not an easy question to answer. In fact, more Texas talent is heading to Pennsylvania:

"After the big guys take out a lot of gas, there will be a burst of activity by smaller players," said Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University. "They have much lower costs, so they can make the economics work." ...

... Bullock said SMU is receiving pamphlets from real estate agents and chambers of commerce around Pittsburgh, with requests to pass them to students. The Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania is booming, and companies are looking for graduates from the area.

The issue of concern is the declining activity in the Barnett Shale play. Western PA is hot right now because of the predominance of wet gas. That should put a scare into Williamsport, PA, which is in the middle of the Marcellus dry gas boom. Residents there should be closely following stories about the Barnett, which is undergoing a rapid decline in drilling. No one is sure what will happen.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh is in the middle of a bonanza. Drilling for oil in the Utica is a boon. Wherever the ethane cracker plant ends up, Pittsburgh will still be the main urban center for all the activity. The rush is on and it is about to get bigger, not smaller.

No comments: