WEIRTON - Joe Eddy, president and chief executive officer, of Eagle Manufacturing in Wellsburg, told Weirton officials Tuesday that downstream possibilities derived from the oil and gas industry can be a big revenue generator for the Mountain State.
Eddy, representing the "Just Beneath the Surface" Alliance, said natural gas, produced in the Mountain State since 1840, is present in 53 of the state's 55 counties and generated more than $271 million in property taxes and more than $230 million in severance taxes from 2009-2011.
Since 2008, Eddy said $3 billion had been invested in drilling and $3.5 billion in downstream investments in West Virginia.
"It's a great opportunity, (the kind) this state hasn't had in 50, maybe 75 years," he said, pointing out that natural gas currently feeds 65 million homes, 5 million businesses, 207,000 factories and 1,800 electricity-generating units in the U.S.
"Within 10 years we'll be the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world," he said.
Eddy said at one time there were six ethane crackers in West Virginia, but when their raw material supply dried up they moved to the Gulf states. Now, with new drilling methods allowing energy companies to tap into previously untouchable reserves, he said there's no reason ethane crackers won't come back.
"There's a lot of ethane in the Marcellus and Utica that must be removed," he said, pointing out the cracker Shell is planning in nearby Monaca, Pa., will require a $3.5 billion investment. Its output, however, is expected to double that number and is predicted to generate roughly $730 million a year in wages and $95 million in state tax revenue.
State officials still are working to secure a cracker plant in the Mountain State, along with significant downstream operations.
Eddy met with city officials and community leaders prior to the start of council's November meeting.
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)