Monday, May 01, 2017

Some areas waiting for a coal revival might look to natural gas; here's a look at one Ohio county

Belmont County, Ohio
(Wikipedia map)
Many coal regions where President Trump won heavily are still waiting for him to deliver on his promise to revive the industry. One such area is Belmont County, Ohio, where Trump won by 42 percentage points, and where coal mining jobs were once plentiful, but now account for less than 400 jobs, reports If Belmont residents are "longing for an industrial renaissance" it won't come in the form of coal, but natural gas, a cheaper alternative to coal. The county, which once has seven working coal mines, now only has one.

"If natural gas has been killing coal, it has also been creating new jobs here, though nowhere near as many as coal and the old industries did," reports Currently, there are 261 shale gas wells producing in Belmont County and another 32 are being drilled. Thailand's PTT Global Chemical Public Company is looking to build a multi-billion-dollar petrochemical refinery in the region that "would create 6,000 to 7,000 construction jobs and 600 to 700 permanent jobs, which in turn would support other employment."

"Rice Energy, which is just one of nine gas producers working in Belmont County, has budgeted a little over $1 billion for drilling and completion of gas wells this year there and two western Pennsylvanian counties, said spokeswoman Kimberly Price," writes "About $450 million of that money will be spent in Belmont County," she said.

Price said Rice Energy has 508 full-time employees and currently has openings for another 29, reports "The networks of pipes needed to connect wells to gas lines also spurs employment, at least temporarily. But once the construction is completed, the very efficiency of gas operations is a threat to future employment. It takes only a few employees to monitor the high-tech metering, cleaning and 'de-watering' equipment installed on huge concrete well pads."

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