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What If U.S. Shale Gas Could Power Tokyo? We’re Getting There

Thomas J. Pyle, PennLive

Ten years ago, conventional wisdom told us that we were living in an age of increasing scarcity that demanded public policies to conserve natural resources and seek alternative energy and fuel sources. But thanks to the entrepreneurialism and ingenuity of American companies, this narrative has been completely flipped. Pennsylvania is at the forefront of this energy revolution.

Before producers in the Keystone State began using hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling to tap into the Marcellus Shale, the state was producing less than 200 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually. Within a mere decade, that number has skyrocketed to over 5 trillion cubic feet. That’s enough natural gas to provide for U.S. residential gas consumption for an entire year with room to spare.

Further, Pennsylvania has become the second-largest natural gas producing state in the U.S. with more than 8,200 producing wells. The economic benefits have spread across the state, with 33 of 67 counties having at least one producing well.

Not only is gas from the Marcellus Shale powering the state and our entire region, it’s also being used to power cities halfway around the world. Pennsylvania’s natural gas is being shipped in the form of liquified natural gas (LNG) from the Cove Point Terminal in Maryland to Japan, India and beyond.

Total U.S. LNG exports quadrupled in 2017 as we exported to more destinations than ever before. Countries like South Korea, China, and Mexico are coming to rely on American energy.

Pennsylvania gas makes up a large portion of these exports, already accounting for 20 percent of U.S. natural gas production. And that number is on the rise due to new regional pipelines and pipeline projects including the Rockies Express Pipeline, the Rover Pipeline, and the Algonquin Project, which will allow for increased output to surrounding areas.

All of this activity leads to projections by the Energy Information Administration that America will be a net total energy exporter by 2020. The U.S. is already a net exporter of natural gas.

America’s newfound energy prowess has cushioned us from geopolitical price shocks and is rapidly changing the global energy picture.

This, in turn, is changing and strengthening our hand in international relations and national security. The U.S. shale revolution clearly illustrates that we no longer have a supply problem when it comes to energy development, we have a demand opportunity.

Our next great challenge is ensuring that we continue to pursue the right state and federal policies that encourage production in a safe, environmentally sound manner while building out the infrastructure necessary to transport natural gas to city centers in the U.S. and abroad.

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