Outlook of natural gas in WV

Published: Oct. 3, 2016 at 5:37 PM EDT
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With thousands of job losses in the coal industry, many in our state have set their sights to the future of natural gas. But profits have been slumping and jobs disappearing, leaving many of you to wonder what is the outlook of natural gas?

According to economists, natural gas production in West Virginia is stable right now, but it may take some time before we see any big results or more jobs created.

Part of the problem is we saw a huge boom of natural gas here in our area, but that huge boost in production could not keep up with the speed of infrastructure.

For now, low prices of natural gas have led to layoffs and delays in pipeline projects.

Brian Lego, Research Assistant Professor and WVU's Bureau of Business and Economic Research's Economic Forecaster, said the future of natural gas is optimistic and the outlook is positive in the long term.

5 News also reached out to a few natural gas companies to get their take on where the industry is headed.

"We think for years and years to come we will be able to influence and be apart of the world market for natural gas, while at the same time never letting our local users suffer because we have so much natural gas available to us it will always be inexpensive here in the basin," said Kevin Ellis, Vice President of Government Relations for Antero Resources Corp. and Chairman Board President of the WV Oil and Natural Gas Association.

"My estimate is we are six months away from really starting to see some hiring. Some companies are starting to hire now and do the training, so I think the future is very bright, but we are not quite there yet, but we will get there," said Bob Orndorff, Dominion Resources State Director of Public Affairs.

5 News also reached out to some environmental groups to hear some of their concerns as the natural gas industry tries to thrive.

"We believe we can develop a lot of employment opportunities with renewable energies, like solar, geothermal, wind, and many others that we haven't really looked at fully yet. We also know from studies that have recently been done that we do not need all of the extra pipeline infrastructure and that the current gas infrastructure is enough to deliver the gas that we would need over the next couple of decades as we transition to renewable energy," said April Keating, Chair of the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance.