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Study: More Drilling Prosperity Ahead for Northeast Pennsylvania

Employees with Cabot Oil and Gas on a drill rig in Susquehanna County, Pa.

A new report issued this week by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, centered at Wilkes University, says Marcellus Shale activity is the “prime factor” for recent economic growth in Northeast Pennsylvania.  The study looks at development trends in two other shale plays, one in Texas and the other in Arkansas. It compares economic growth in the Barnett Shale, and the Fayetteville Shale, with Marcellus Shale production in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Bradford, Susquehanna and Lycoming counties.
“A Review of Changes in Selected Economic & Demographic Indicators in Particular Counties in the Barnett, Fayetteville and Marcellus Shale Play,” predicts more population and economic growth in Northeast Pennsylvania as a result of natural gas production. The study was funded by a grant from the Department of Energy.
The Institute’s report says gas development in the Barnett Shale has made the Dallas-Fort Worth area recession-proof.

“Royalty and bonus payments to area residents, cities, school districts, and others continue to rise, as do property tax receipts to local taxing authorities. Texas production has since resulted in $11.1 billion in annual output, and 100,268 permanent jobs.6 The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce estimates that the Barnett Shale activity is responsible for approximately 38.5 percent of the area’s growth over the past decade.”

The Institute reports that Barnett Shale activity will be related to more than 100,000 jobs each year through 2015. And as population in the area rose, property values have followed. The report focused on economic impacts of drilling. StateImpact Texas has also done environmental reporting on Barnett Shale production, including a sudden increase in earthquakes in the Dallas Fort Worth area.
In Faulkner County, Arkansas, which lies above the Fayetteville Shale, population and income levels have jumped. According to the data issued in the report, however, that trend began more than 20 years ago. So it’s unclear how much of that activity has to do with shale production. Still the report’s conclusions about the future of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s energy economy are both rosy and vague.

“There is a clear advantage to natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, but there will certainly be challenges in the process. The opportunity exists; now, it is a matter of time until we can truly analyze its importance and impact.”


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