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Sustainability

Sustainability

By Greg Kozera–

My wife and I used the opportunity of slower business and less travel to paint our office. Lynnda is the expert on removing wall paper. I got to do all of the painting. Paint was everywhere, my hair, my feet, (I was in sandals) and the carpet. I only tracked a little out of the office. Fortunately, paint cleans up with water. By the time I started the second coat I felt like a pro. We have been going through and throwing out accumulated stuff as we started putting things back.

I had a chance to review newspapers and magazines that ran my articles and others going back 15-20 years. The world was different then. We were in the middle of an energy crisis. We were getting most of our oil from OPEC. One of the big concerns was high gasoline prices. We were paying over $3 per gallon except after Hurricane Katrina when gasoline went over $4 in the Shale Crescent USA Region. The refinery in Ashland, KY where we got a lot of gasoline was refining OPEC oil coming up from the Gulf Coast, except during the Hurricane. Today that refinery is making gasoline from Marcellus and Utica production.

In newspapers and magazines 10-15 years ago, we were hopeful Shale Drilling in the Marcellus and other reservoirs around the country would get us out of the Energy Crisis. The commonly held belief was, we could not drill our way out of this crisis. A lot of articles were on renewables like wind and solar. There was concern about climate change and the Paris Agreement. Many people held the belief wind and solar would be essential to get us out of the Energy Crisis. It is easy to look back now knowing what happened. Hind sight is always 20/20. Most important, understanding what happened and why can help us with future decisions we are facing. In hindsight, we accomplished a lot. What did we do and how?

  • We found we could and did drill our way out the energy crisis because of American ingenuity, the new technology of horizontal drilling and the 70+ year old technology of hydraulic fracturing.
  • We had no idea how prolific the Utica and Marcellus would become. In 2008, it took 45 days to drill 8,000 feet deep and out 3,000 feet horizontally. Today in 15 days we can drill over 10,000 feet deep and over 3 miles horizontally.
  • We had no idea the USA would become the leading natural gas and oil producer in the world. The Shale Crescent USA Region is responsible for 85% of new natural gas production and now one third of all US natural gas production. OPEC and Russia weren’t happy with us. We were good customers of theirs.
  • There was an expectation 15 years ago for wind and solar to play a major role in our energy mix. That hasn’t happened. They are now approximately 5% of the US energy market and are still very expensive and unreliable without a backup energy source like natural gas. California has chosen to rely more on wind and solar than most states. Their people are currently suffering through brownouts because they shut down a 3000 MW nuclear power plant and tried to replace it with wind. Electric rates in California since June 2018 are 25 cents per KW hour. I pay 11 cents per KW hour in West Virginia.
  • We learned we could increase our use of natural gas and reduce GHG emissions. The USA is the ONLY large country on track to meet the Paris Climate Change agreement even though we are not part of it. American natural gas is now cleaning the air in countries like India. New recycling technologies in our Region will create sustainable plastics. Manufacturing close to energy, feedstock and consumers in the Shale Crescent will further lower carbon footprint and GHG emissions.
  • Fifteen years ago, we were losing manufacturing jobs to Asia. The USA and Asia were both getting energy and feedstock from OPEC. Asia had cheaper labor. We had no idea in 2008 our Region would begin to see the return of manufacturing. We didn’t expect advanced manufacturing, abundant natural gas and location close to markets to make Shale Crescent USA one of the most profitable places in the world for manufacturing.

Sustainability focuses on meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The three pillars of sustainability are economic, environmental and social (people). What it means is meeting our needs today so that our grandchildren and greatgrandchildren will have the resources for a bright economic future and have a cleaner environment than we have. It was what we learned in Boy Scouts. We always left our campsite better than we found it. This is the concept of conservation. When we fish and hunt it is done in a way that fish and wild life can reproduce allowing for fishing and hunting in the future.

One of the big discussions today is about energy. What can we do today so in 50 years, future generations have the energy they need and a planet fit to live on? The USA went from energy crisis to energy abundance in less than 10 years because of new technology and American ingenuity. Studies show we have several hundred years of natural gas supply based on current technology. This should be plenty of time to develop future energy supplies of dependable alternative energy sources like geothermal that works well in Iceland and possibly hydrogen or advanced nuclear technology.

As important as the environment is, people’s first focus is feeding their family. Someone unemployed is concerned about getting a job. Climate change is low on the list. We know from the past 15 years Americans can solve problems like energy, the environment and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the USA. If the past is an indication of the future, working together we can solve any problem. We have a lot to be proud of. Believe in your future.

© 2020 Shale Crescent USA

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.