The Appalachian Basin’s Marcellus shale is talked up as the best shale-gas play in the country these days, and attendance at Hart’s DUG East conference seemed to confirm that sentiment. More than 1,300 people crowded the Pittsburgh convention center for a day-long Marcellus conference. High-profile operators spoke, interspersed with technical panels. Topics ranged from drilling plans to geology to midstream issues and economics. For me, the conference was a tremendous validation of an old and familiar area. It is fun to see a widespread rejuvenation of interest in the Appalachian Basin, 150 years after Colonel Drake drilled the world's first oil well. Jeff Ventura, president and chief operating officer of Range Resources Corp., the kick-off speaker, highlighted a recent Penn State study that noted that by 2020 Pennsylvania alone will enjoy 176,000 jobs, $14 billion in economic impact, and $1.5 billion in state and local taxes from Marcellus shale development. Additionally, lease and royalty payments to Pennsylvania landowners are expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2020.

More broadly, Murry Gerber, chairman and chief executive of EQT Corp. noted in his presentation that the U.S. natural gas industry employs nearly 3 million people, and that 31 states have at least 10,000 industry jobs. Each year, natural gas accounts for $385 billion in annual economic impact.

To take a look at the Penn State study, go to this link:

--Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor