- By Jeff Bell/ Columbus Business First
State Rep. Sean O’Brien had some numbers to share Wednesday with his fellow legislators about what the Utica shale play has meant for his district in the Youngstown area.
Speaking at a Statehouse luncheon sponsored by oil and natural gas lobbying groups, the Democrat from Hubbard said shale development is helping turn around the economy in that long-depressed part of northeast Ohio. O’Brien mentioned how BP Plc (NYSE:BP) has spent $330 million in his district since March. That includes bonuses paid to property owners who are leasing their land and mineral rights to the company, and spending on initial test wells that BP is drilling on its 84,000 leasehold acres in Trumbull County.
“Farmers facing foreclosure several months ago are now millionaires,” O’Brien said.
He also mentioned the $1 billion investment made by French-owned V & M Star in a steel-pipe manufacturing plant in Youngstown and multimillion-dollar investment by Russia’sTMK Ipsco in a pipe-threading operation in Brookfield. The pipes are used in oil and gas drilling operations in the U.S.
Plastics and chemical companies are also looking at investing in O’Brien’s district, which he said has seen its unemployment rate fall from 13.5 percent in 2008 to 6.9 percent today. He chalked it up to shale-gas development still in its infancy in Ohio.
“Businesses have added employees they weren’t going to add otherwise,” O’Brien told me after his speech, “and we haven’t even hit the oil and gas boom. BP hasn’t fracked one well in my district yet.”
I also asked him about how he views all the environmental issues raised by fracking opponents and the earthquakes in 2011 tied to an injection well for drilling fluids in the Youngstown area. Continue Reading Here.