CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Experts say West Virginia's natural gas economy could see nearly six-fold growth by 2035 and revive the state's struggling manufacturing and chemical sectors.
While the state's natural gas industry has grown in recent years, driven by development in the Marcellus shale region, American Petroleum Institute executive vice president Marty Durbin says the industry has only just begun scratching the surface.
"West Virginia is poised to see a real increase in development in natural gas in the coming years here," Durbin said.
Durbin is one of several industry leaders in town this week for the second Marcellus to Manufacturing Ethane Development Conference in conjunction with the 34th annual West Virginia Construction and Design Expo at the Charleston Civic Center.
He and American Chemistry Council president Cal Dooley will be keynote speakers at a seminar this morning to discuss how investment in the American natural gas industry could drive a rebirth in the manufacturing sector.
Durbin says recent development of the Marcellus, Utica and Bakken shale regions have changed the national outlook for the oil and natural gas industry.
"There's no question that the outlook today is far different than what anyone thought it was even five years ago," Durbin said. "We're well beyond talking about energy scarcity here, it's all about abundance."
Durbin called oil and natural gas a "foundational element in the economy." He said properly developing the natural gas extraction industry in the state, leaders can see further development in other related industries.
"This is a real opportunity for the chemical industry to build in this area, because natural gas is their mother's milk," Durbin said.
"This is an incredible opportunity," he said. "By developing this resource, you've now got the opportunity to bring manufactures here."