PITTSBURGH – From Cadiz and Hopedale to Majorsville and Mobley, MarkWest Energy’s investment for Marcellus and Utica shale processing infrastructure now reaches about $7.5 billion, but Frank Semple said development is far from complete.
“We are still in the early innings of a nine-inning ball game,” Semple, MarkWest’s chairman, president and CEO, said Thursday during the Shale Insight 2014 conference in downtown Pittsburgh.
As Denver-based MarkWest continues expanding throughout the region, Semple said those working for his firm remain determined to do the “little things” to make a good impression with the public.
“Make sure your boots are clean when you go into a local restaurant – and always leave a tip,” he said as a guide to workers.
Following Semple’s remarks, former U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson took the podium. The Democrat, who also served as governor of New Mexico, knew he was speaking to a room filled with Republicans, but said he believes support for shale development is bi-partisan.
“I think President (Barack) Obama is for you,” Richardson said. “You’re hot right now. You’re good. You’re on a roll.”
“We are basically the number one producer of energy today. This is because of technology,” he added.
However, conservative talk show host Sean Hannity said he believes Obama and fellow Democrats are preventing the shale industry from reaching its full potential.
“Socialism always fails – and it has failed again under President Obama,” Hannity said. “Americans are suffering needlessly because of the stupidity of government. Government is not your friend. In spite of them, you are still succeeding.”
Hannity said increased domestic oil and natural gas production should become a priority for the U.S. in the nation’s ongoing efforts to reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy. However, he does not believe Obama or Democrats have much interest in seeing this happen.
“Energy equals jobs,” he said. “Every problem America has can be solved through your industry. We can renew the American dream because of what you are doing.”
Hannity said the Marcellus region of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and portions of Ohio and New York can compare to the Bakken shale region of North Dakota. Significant oil production in that state allows it to have a low unemployment rate.
“North Dakota is a miracle,” he said. “North Dakota ought to be duplicated.”
Also Thursday, representatives from Williams Energy and NiSource Inc., parent company of Columbia Pipeline Group and Columbia Gas of Ohio, joined others for a panel discussion on the status of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and its rules. Operating under the U.S. Department of Transportation, this agency is responsible for the safe operation of interstate pipelines.
“We are investing $4 billion to $5 billion to replace pipelines and improve compression,” said Rebecca Sczudlo, NiSource vice president of Government Affairs.
“The fear factor is really, really hard,” added Williams spokeswoman Cindy Ivey. “The number-one myth about our company is that we do not care.”