The Just Beneath the Surface Alliance hosted a Business Leaders Lunch & Learn Tuesday at West Virginia Northern Community College.
Speakers Kenneth R. Mason, president and CEO of Drilling Appalachian Corporation & DAC Energy, along with Rayola Doughner, senior economic advisor of the American Petroleum Institute, highlighted the economic impact of the Marcellus Shale development on the local and surrounding areas as well as answered questions from those in attendance.
Mason, born and raised in Wetzel County, as well as a graduate of West Virginia University, noted that West Virginia has over 100 trillion cubic feet of available natural gas, enough for years and years of production. "We have enough to last this country 100 years. We have opportunities here to get off of foreign oil."
Kenneth R. Mason, president and CEO of Drilling Appalachian Corporation & DAC Energy, explains during a Business Leaders Lunch & Learn Tuesday at West Virginia Northern Community College how wells are drilled and the measures taken to protect groundwater. (Photo by Lauren Riggs)
Mason delivered a presentation on the drilling process as well as offered insight on the hydraulic fracturing process. Mason said that each well contains layers of steel casing and cementing to protect groundwater. He mentioned that 99.5 percent of the fracturing mixture is made up by water and sand; the other half percent are additives that are found in common household products including, but not limited to, make-up remover, candy, table salt, drinking water filtration systems, play sand, gas cleaner, antiperspirant, cosmetics, ice cream, toothpaste, and lemon juice. Mason also noted that there has never been a documented instance of water contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing. He has been in the business since 1984; every well he drilled included the hydraulic fracking process.
Mason also emphasized the jobs in the construction, drilling, chemical, trucking, hospitality, and steel industries that will be created through Marcellus Shale development, as well as the $4.4 billion generated in federal, state, and local tax revenues.
Mason then answered questions regarding how long the drilling will be going on in Wetzel County. Mason estimated that the development process will take 15-20 years. Although everything seems to be at a heightened pace right now, he believes activity will wane a little bit, as right now is the "early gold rush development". Mason later mentioned that he believes the two biggest concerns of the public seem to be the heavy traffic on the roads as well as the increased activity. He said the biggest benefit of Marcellus Shale is the jobs.
Rayola Doughner followed up with a presentation on the economic impact of Marcellus Shale development in the area. "We are looking at a very different energy future. . . It's hard to grasp how really big it really is, how wonderful it really is to fuel our economic growth." Doughner remarked that an estimated 1,660,000 US jobs are expected to be generated from Marcellus Shale development by 2035.