Last fall, I wrote about how U.S. energy development is creating jobs in places you might not expect – such as in the Aker shipyard in Philadelphia.
In September, ExxonMobil affiliate SeaRiver Maritime signed an agreement with Aker to build two new Liberty Class tankers. Last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer looked into what this new business means for the shipyard, which was on the brink of closing just a year ago.
More than 800 workers – many previously laid off – are busy constructing the tankers, which will be used to transport crude oil from Alaska to customers on the U.S. West Coast. The newspaper notes that the $400 million project “set in motion the recalling of workers and the restarting of an apprenticeship program” that had been suspended in 2010 due to the economic downturn, which had caused more than 600 layoffs at Aker.
It’s a good story of hardworking men and women eager to build careers and contribute to the city’s economic success. But it’s also a story of how America’s energy industry – through our investments to ensure reliable, affordable supplies of energy – is helping create good jobs at a time when the nation really needs them.
Nowhere is this job creation more evident than in the rest of Pennsylvania, where growing production of natural gas from the state’s vast shale resources is sparking widespread job growth and economic activity. Recent U.S. Energy Information Administration data show that Pennsylvania’s natural gas production more than quadrupled from 2009 to 2011, thanks to the application of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies. State labor department stats show the corresponding economic growth – jobs in core oil and gas industries grew by 154 percent from 2008 to 2011.
Such numbers don’t include the jobs from the steel mills and other industries that are coming back to life in the region to help supply materials for gas development; or the manufacturers who can take advantage of affordable natural gas supplies; or the hotels and restaurants that have seen demand for their services rise.
Many other states, from Texas to Louisiana to North Dakota, are experiencing similar benefits from shale resource development. A study released just last week by IHS Global Insight found that in 2010, unconventional gas activity supported 1 million jobs – and that number is expected to grow to nearly 1.5 million jobs in 2015. That’s not to mention the nearly $50 billion in federal, state and local government revenue this activity is expected to create by 2015.
When you put it all together, it’s clear that developing U.S. energy supplies is not only benefiting consumers; it’s also putting U.S. industries back to work and getting state and local economies back on track.