U.S. energy production has taken a significant step forward in recent years, particularly through new technologies that have allowed the extraction of gas from shale formations in places such as North Dakota and Pennsylvania.
A recent report from the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), for instance, indicated that the surge in the U.S. will help the country surpass Russia as the largest producer of natural gas by 2015. A release from the agency also noted that the U.S. is expected to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017.
“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in the release. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.”
Pennsylvania and the Marcellus Shale are Key
Perhaps nowhere is this concept of shale gas more relevant than in the Marcellus Shale, from which states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are reaping great benefits. In a recent op-ed piece for the Patriot-News, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer and Gov. Tom Corbett’s energy executive, Patrick Henderson, wrote that studies show the Shale is the “global superstar of natural gas formations.”
In the piece, the public officials note that Marcellus well production is already exceeding some of the most optimistic expectations, while the state of Pennsylvania already employs 240,000 people in the oil and natural gas extraction sectors. They cite Standard & Poor’s, which has said that those jobs numbers are simply the tip of the iceberg.
The boost the economy receives — particularly in rural areas of Pennsylvania and other big natural gas producing states — goes beyond energy-related jobs as well. With the influx of workers, additional infrastructure, from roadways and bridges to portable office trailers, will be needed in order to further support these rural communities, particularly as production only continues to ramp up.