Shale Gas Industry Flourishes in W.Va.'s Marshall County
Triblive.com - Signs of a developing shale gas economy abound in Marshall County, W.Va. Read
They dot the Ohio River south of Moundsville along state Route 2, where glistening fractionation towers rise above gas processing plants, powered by new electric substations across the highway. They fill parking lots with pickups, some with the out-of-state license plates of "pipeliners" who leaders hope will become a year-round presence.
"You go to the Wal-Mart and see a lot of strangers now," said Wanda DeTemple, 79, who lives in the community of Washington Lands, close to the expanded processing facility that pipeline company Williams operates on a curve in the river at Round Bottom.
Sitting at the bottom of the Northern Panhandle, Marshall County anchors the Wheeling metropolitan area, which the Bureau of Economic Analysis recently identified as the fifth-fastest growing economy in the country. Shale-related business fed a 9.5 percent increase in the area's gross domestic product from 2013 to 2014, the bureau said in September.
"There's no question that the growth of the natural gas industry is with us and will continue," said county Commissioner Stanley Stewart. "We seem to be the focal point, from the north end to the south end."
Leaders say the county, at the geographic center of liquids-rich Marcellus and Utica shale operations, pipeline development and legacy industries, could anchor a regional center for shale-related manufacturing and industry. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and other officials who gathered last month in Morgantown to discuss tri-state planning said they want to build a gas and petrochemical complex that would rival that found on the Gulf Coast, boosting local demand and prices for gas and the liquids that also come from shale wells.