In a recent speech in Philadelphia, XTO President Jack Williams talked about the industry’s responsibility to communicate our commitment to planning, safety and operational integrity at every stage in the development of shale natural gas.
Effective communication about this energy source is particularly critical in regions that haven’t been major energy-producing centers since the late 19th century. The technologies involved in shale drilling are less familiar to residents of Pennsylvania, for example, than to those of states like Texas.
Understandably, communities want to learn more about how energy production will work in their areas.
That’s why I want to flag the portion of Jack’s speech where he offers a personal insight into the effects of shale gas development on one local community – his own. Jack said:
I live in Fort Worth, which happens to sit on top of the most actively drilled shale play in the United States – the Barnett Shale. Where I live, shale gas activity is a familiar part of everyday life.
You know that old saying, “not in my backyard”? I don’t have a shale well in my backyard, but I can see one from my front yard. There is a well pad less than a half a mile from my house and two wells on that pad run horizontally beneath my property.
My experience is far from unique. Over the past decade, nearly 20,000 wells have been drilled in the Fort Worth area, which is home to nearly 2 million people.
Shale gas has been a welcome development in Fort Worth. It has created more than 100,000 jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue and royalties, and billions in economic development. Over the past few years – a time when, unfortunately, many American cities were hurt by the economic downturn – Fort Worth has remained a thriving, fast-growing city.
And in all this time, there have been no instances of shale development harming drinking water, or any other significant aspect of our environment.
Jack’s speech – and his personal experience – reminds us that we can have energy production and its attendant benefits of job creation and growth, while protecting safety, local communities and our environment.