Sunday, April 04, 2010

Marcellus Shale Bust

I'm fascinated with the Marcellus Play and how it might impact inmigration to the SW Pennsylvania backwater (as well as the rest of Northern Appalachia). I've had visions of Pittsburgh as the next Calgary, but I'm busy reining in that enthusiasm. Via the energy blog at the Houston Chronicle, the gas rush is no big deal:

"The studies used to support the claim that drilling will bring economic benefits to New York are either biased, dated, seriously flawed, or simply not applicable to the region that would be affected," said Barth, who holds master's and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Maryland.

Christian Harris, an analyst with the New York State Department of Labor, said Marcellus jobs could buttress a weak economy, but added that it's hard to estimate the impact.

Depending on your source, you can find a different story. Most of the news indicates a big deal. The main issue is the unknown. The legal terrain is uncertain, as is the pending climate change legislation currently in limbo.

Another issue is infrastructure. The gas needs to go where it can be used. Right now, that isn't happening. Those jobs, the ones dealing with delivery, might be the real game-changer. The drilling itself can limp along on itinerant labor. All the associated industry, including policy analysis and workforce development, should benefit from the unconventional gas rush.

A good example is the V&M Star expansion in Youngstown. Driving this is the steel pipe used to release the shale gas for harvest. These are, forgive the pun, pipeline jobs. Right now, the Marcellus Shale is mostly hype. Tomorrow, I expect the bulls to run.

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