Why Ohio is Keeping an Eye on Oklahoma’s Energy Boom

  • Joe Wertz

There’s a lot of petroleum promise in Ohio’s Utica Shale. Drilling and development are ramping up, but there’s still uncertainty. And Ohioans don’t quite know what to expect.

So, Cleveland Plain Dealer business reporter John Funk traveled to Oklahoma City, “the energy capital of an energy state,” to take home some insight on boom-and-bust:

In Oklahoma City, you can bear witness to the energy debate at full roar. On one side, proponents talk of true energy independence where a steady supply of cheap energy ends the boom-and-bust years and guarantees a golden economy. On the other side, at least one experienced energy analyst predicts the latest boom will be over in a little more than a decade.

Oklahomans seem at ease with their oil and gas neighbors, Funk observes:

… oil and gas producing equipment is in shopping center parking lots, along city streets and interstate highways, at the Will Rogers Airport, even on the grounds of the state capitol building.

But the Ohio business reporter also focuses on how OKC — home of Chesapeake Energy, the major player in the Buckeye State’s Utica Shale — is investing its energy industry largess:

It is rebuilding its downtown through a series of major construction projects built with cash rather than debt.

Public development has attracted heavy private investment. Gas and oil companies have built new headquarters or renovated older buildings. Downtown has gone from one hotel to 15. And United Airlines has added a direct flight to Cleveland.

Another key difference between Ohio and Oklahoma: environmental activism, Funk reports:

Unlike in Ohio where the drilling industry is still a target of environmental organizations, isolated citizens groups and even a few cities concerned about groundwater, Oklahoma’s oil and gas producers get little opposition from the public.

The technology used in shale development — horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — is not an issue in Oklahoma either.