If leaders in the energy sector have it their way, Philadelphia would become a world-class city for processing and exporting gas and liquids from the Marcellus and Utica Shales.
At the Shale Insight conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday, executives “urged a sharp increase in pipeline capacity, which they said would enable the creation of a so-called “energy hub” in Philadelphia where an influx of cheap, plentiful gas would attract manufacturers and spark an economic resurgence in the region,” according to NPR’s State Impact. In fact, hydraulic fracturing and other techniques have made Pennsylvania the state with the second-highest gas production. Now it’s a matter of getting it where it needs to go.
One way is through Philadelphia via a pipeline. Think of it this way: Peco gets 85 percent of its gas from the Marcellus Shale but “because of insufficient pipelines, though, the gas likely travels a circuitous route,” the Pittsburgh Tribune Review said.
But garnering enough interest to actually build a pipeline is no sure thing. Energy hub supporters “are hindered by potential backers of new pipelines being reluctant to commit without an assurance of long-term demand, while possible buyers of the fuel need to be confident of supply before agreeing to set up in the Philadelphia area,” State Impact reported.
Lisa Crutchfield, a senior vice president at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce argued that Philadelphia should first attract heavy users, which will make it easier to win over lawmakers and environmentalists. Plus, low energy prices will attract businesses to Philadelphia, said James O’Toole, an attorney on the Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team that’s hoping to help create a Philly energy hub.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Dennis Davin, commerce secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf, also endorsed the pipeline idea.
“Philadelphia has great energy assets, and we are committed to helping to develop those energy assets through funding and other means of support,” Davin said, according to the Inquirer. “We know we need to get the gas to market, and Philadelphia is one of the ways to get the gas to market.”
But not everybody is supportive. A small group of demonstrators protested the conference outside.
During his keynote address, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said that it’s not only the United States who is excited that we’re producing energy ourselves.
“Europe wants an alternative to Russia,” he said according to the Tribune Review. “They want to do business with us, not their historic enemy.”