“Quagmire” Hope Lies on Shale’s Shoulders

Excellent article in the Houston Chronicle this week that applauds the local decisions of ExxonMobil to expand in Baytown, creating hundreds of jobs. Why the expansion? Shale gas of course! Read on for more:

The term of art widely used to describe today's struggling economy is that it's "facing headwinds."

In our battle to reduce unemployment, control the national debt and deficit, and restore our economy to robust health, we're said to be encountering stiff headwinds. They're blowing against us from the eurozone, which is in its own economic disarray, from Washington, D.C., where gridlock prevents bipartisanship that might yield economic solutions, and from the Middle East and China for a host of reasons.

It's good to be in Houston, where a dynamic energy industry is successfully navigating these headwinds and actually tacking ahead to a future where fairer winds may prevail. The latest example is Exxon Mobil's decision to expand its petrochemical complex in Baytown, creating 10,000 construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs at the plant.

The common denominator driving these projects is the abundance of natural gas from shale rock that has dramatically changed the nation's energy picture over the past several years. The availability of cheap natural gas has also made possible the export of liquefied natural gas from domestic gas reserves.

These steps are being taken against a backdrop of possible global recession and uncertainty about policy-making in this country that has kept an estimated $2 trillion to $3 trillion in private capital on the sidelines. With a close presidential election coming in November, that uncertainty is likely to continue through the end of 2012.

These decisions to push ahead not only reflect positive changes in the natural gas sector, but the kind of boldness and calculated risk-taking for which the oil patch has long been known. As Houstonians, we applaud these choices, not only for the benefits they bring to the regional economy, but for the larger benefit they will bring to a recovering national economy.

It seems clear to us that the energy industry is positioning itself to lead the United States out of economic quagmire and into a new era of prosperity built on the wise use of abundant domestic fuel resources.

The industry deserves support for this bold approach!