*This article originally appeared in the Pennsylvania Gas & Oil Magazine*
Since the first successful Marcellus Shale well was developed by Range Resources in Washington County, we’ve seen townships and cities across Pennsylvania change.
This change is fueled by the cheap, abundant energy resources from shale formations a mile beneath out feet.
Again this year the Marcellus Shale broke production records, which is allowing cities like Philadelphia to take advantage of new opportunities.
In the 1800’s coal made Philadelphia an energy hub, but as time went on that faded. Now, with the prolific Marcellus Shale right in the city’s’ back yard, Philadelphia is on the cusp to once again be a major energy hub for the Commonwealth.
The city’s strategic location will allow it to create more manufactured goods (glass, ceramics, and electronic components), petro chemicals (industrial chemicals, fertilizer, and plastic resins) and refined products (gasoline, diesel, and heating oil).
Currently, crude from the Bakken shale in North Dakota is transported via rail into Philadelphia, where it is refined into gasoline etc. While this is a step in the right direction for Philadelphia, the area is still lacking the key infrastructure to transport more valuable resources into the region.
In order to boost manufacturing and refining, the city needs pipelines.
According to an article by Patrick Kerkstra in PhillyMag, pipeline projects are being worked on as we speak. Under construction is a project called Mariner East. Sunoco Logistics is repurposing an 83-year old petroleum pipeline that, when finished, will pump 70,000 barrels per day of natural- gas liquids like propane and ethane from the southwestern part of the Marcellus Shale. These natural gas liquids will help manufacture industrial chemicals, fertilizer and plastic resins.
Other pipelines still in the planning stage will bring dry natural gas from the Northeast into the city which will help fire domestic water heaters and, more importantly, co-generation facilities that can power enormous data centers and steel factories.
These manufacturing and refining facilities are boosting local economies and employing thousands of people, something we’re already seeing across the state.
Take the U.S. steel industry for example. The need for pipeline infrastructure to move natural gas to places like Philadelphia has created a steel manufacturing boom here in the United States. Foreign companies have even begun to bring their operations back into the States because of our cheap, abundant energy supply.
This re-shoring going on in America right now is something our parents and grandparents never thought they would see again. It’s providing economic opportunity for hard working Americans, and creating a renewed manufacturing base for cities like Philadelphia. With infrastructure being built out across the Commonwealth it’s only a matter of time before cities like Philadelphia begin to transform into energy and manufacturing hubs.