Chilean Energy Companies Eye Marcellus Shale Gas

  • Susan Phillips

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett helps cut the ribbon near the site of Chile's new consulate in Philadelphia.

Nat Hamilton / WHYY/Newsworks

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett helps cut the ribbon with Chilean officials and Philadelphia deputy mayor Alan Greenberger near the site of Chile's new consulate in Philadelphia.

Chilean energy executives interested in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale natural gas are in the middle of a three-day trade visit to the state. The tour comes on the heels of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s own trade trip to Chile last April. 
With great fanfare, Gov. Corbett cut a large ribbon with gigantic scissors at the site of Chile’s new consulate in Philadelphia. But the real focus of the day’s visit is Chile’s interest in importing natural gas from the state’s Marcellus Shale formation.
Bernardo Larrain is the chairman of Colbun, a Chilean energy company. Larrain says demand for energy in Chile is growing five to six percent a year, and will continue at that rate for the next 20 years.
“And that’s why we’re here,” Larrain told StateImpact. “Pennsylvania produces a lot of natural gas, shale gas. And Chile has a big installed capacity with plants that operate with natural gas. So I think there’s a good potential for association with the state of Pennsylvania.”
Larrain says opposition to new coal fired plants in his country limits their options. He says his company has spoken to executives from large energy companies like Shell and BP about importing natural gas from the United States. Right now, two new export terminals are under construction along the Gulf Coast. But he says he’s also heard talk of an export facility for Philadelphia.
Gov. Corbett told the crowd of energy executives from both the U.S. and Chile that he’s all for exporting the state’s natural gas to the developing nation.
“As Chile’s manufacturing sector grows, she is clearly going to need energy,” said Corbett. “Well we have a little bit of it here in Pennsylvania, we have it in abundance and we’re blessed by that.”
Establishing exports to Chile could be easier than sending gas abroad to large consumers like India and Japan because the U.S. has a free trade agreement with Chile.
Chilean energy executives plan to visit Pennsylvania’s gas fields before heading back home.

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