Gaso­line cri­sis averted

The Times-Tribune - - Editorial -

Ed­i­tor: To un­der­stand the state of Amer­i­can en­ergy pro­duc­tion, con­trast the sharp run-up in oil and nat­u­ral gas prices af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in New Or­leans 12 years ago and the less-ex­treme ef­fects on en­ergy prices from the flood­ing that dev­as­tated Hous­ton in Hur­ri­cane Har­vey.

As of now, gas prices have in­creased about 25 cents a gal­lon in some places, noth­ing like the huge price spike af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina. The fall­out would have been much worse if not for some­thing that didn’t ex­ist a decade ago: the shale boom.

Due to new tech­niques like hor­i­zon­tal drilling and ad­vances in hy­draulic frac­tur­ing, what are known as tight oil re­sources — where oil is pro­duced from rock for­ma­tions such as shale — ac­count for 48 per­cent of the na­tion’s oil pro­duc­tion and 60 per­cent of the nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion, ac­cord­ing to the En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion. A large share is pro­duced in the Mar­cel­lus and Utica shales.

Sim­ply, shale pro­duc­tion means less vul­ner­a­bil­ity to hur­ri­canes and po­lit­i­cal up­heavals.

Had it not been for the shale boom, there could have been a full-blown en­ergy cri­sis. The Mar­cel­lus and Utica shales are among the most pro­duc­tive drilling re­gions in the na­tion. Since 2010 nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion has surged by 520 per­cent in West Vir­ginia, 920 per­cent in Penn­syl­va­nia and 1,880 per­cent in Ohio. There also have been dra­matic in­creases in oil pro­duc­tion.

Texas is of­ten thought of as the cen­ter of oil pro­duc­tion, but in­creas­ingly pro­duc­tion comes from Penn­syl­va­nia, Ohio and North Dakota. Con­se­quently, the im­pact of the Texas storm on oil and gas prices has been rel­a­tively mod­er­ate.

An­other mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor in hold­ing down the price of gaso­line and other re­fin­ery prod­ucts has been the de­cline in oil im­ports. Thanks to the shale boom, Amer­i­cans pay much less for gaso­line than they did a decade ago. JOHN J. IN­TER­VAL BRIDGEVILLE, AL­LEGHENY COUNTY

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