Study: Pa. to lead in job growth from unconventional natural-gas development

Posted: June 15, 2012

A new national study says Pennsylvania, where Marcellus Shale drilling is expanding dramatically, is expected to lead in job growth attributed to unconventional natural gas development.

An industry-sponsored study by IHS Global Insight found that unconventional gas production, including shale gas development, supported more than one million jobs nationwide in 2010 and was projected to grow to nearly 1.5 million jobs by 2015.

Unconventional gas production supported nearly 57,000 jobs in Pennsylvania in 2010, 13,600 of those directly, according to the study, which projected that the industry would support 111,000 jobs in the Keystone State by 2015, including 26,000 directly. Most of the employment is indirect, through suppliers, or induced through increased economic activity.

The report, commissioned by America's Natural Gas Alliance, is the latest industry study touting the benefits of unconventional gas development, which uses horizontal-drilling methods and hydraulic-fracturing techniques to liberate natural gas from impermeable source rocks, such as shale, coal beds, and tight sands.

In the past, most natural gas was produced conventionally by drilling into reservoirs, where natural gas had migrated over millions of years and collected in large concentrations. But conventional reserves are in decline, leading to more unconventional exploration.

Unconventional drilling, which has attracted intense opposition for causing environmental and social disruptions, is fast becoming the norm. The study says unconventional drilling will account for 67 percent of natural gas production by 2015 and 79 percent by 2035.

Pennsylvania, where gas-related employment is expected to grow at an annual compounded rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2015, is expected to surpass Louisiana and Colorado among the top four states for unconventional gas production, and by 2020 will be second only to Texas. The study projects gas production will support 270,000 jobs in Pennsylvania by 2035.

The report is an expansion of a study IHS released in December that focused only on shale gas, which makes up most unconventional gas production. The new report also attempts to quantify state-by-state economic impacts, including in states where gas is not being produced.

The study is available on the IHS website:

Contact Andrew Maykuth at 215-854-2947,, or follow on Twitter @Maykuth

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