With BP's announcement about moving its Ohio headquarters to North Jackson and drilling 10 Trumbull County wells by April, it's a good time to look at how much progress is being made in the oil and natural gas industry.
BP on Monday announced that it has leased 43,000 square feet of office and warehouse space in Youngstown Commerce Park for its Utica Operations Center. It will maintain a presence in the Chase Tower in downtown Warren.
While announcing its Commerce Park shale headquarters, BP's Ohio Operations Manager Joe Uppercue said Northeast Ohio, including Trumbull and Mahoning counties, will soon be overwhelmed by the development of pipeline infrastructure and midstream processing factories.
Two days later a study was released indicating that by 2025 Ohio will rank third in the continental U.S. with 187,829 unconventional oil and natural gas-related jobs. This year Ohio ranked 10th with 38,830 such jobs.
And then a day after that, Dominion and Caiman Energy announced a $1.5 billion partnership to develop infrastructure in the Utica Shale region.
This adds up to a nice Christmas present for the Mahoning Valley, which more and more inches closer to becoming an epicenter for worldwide geopolitical change.
Consider some of these developments:
l Without passage of the controversial cap-and-trade legislation, America's greenhouse emissions dropped to its lowest level since 1992 as the nation began migrating from coal plants to natural gas.
l A headline in The Wall Street Journal last month proclaimed, ''U.S. Redraws World oil Map.'' The story that followed reported that by 2020 America would be the world's largest oil producer, because of shale development.
l Earlier this month U.S. Rep. Edwad Markey, ranking member of the House's Natural Resources Committee, declared that natural gas would be ''one of the five great story lines for the 21st Century.''
l Environmental zealots who oppose fracking, the method of extracting oil and natural gas from shale formations, continue to have their propaganda debunked. Epidemiologists recently announced that a statement in the anti-fracking movie ''Gasland,'' that fracking causes breast cancer, is false. And paper trails show that the anti-fracking movie ''Promised Land,'' was financed by Middle East oil interests who are sure to lose big time when the shale reserves are fully developed.
To capitalize on this, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber spent three days in Texas this month holding 13 meetings with companies that could locate in the Mahoning Valley.
It appears the effort is worthwhile. In 2013, as BP explores its first 10 Trumbull County wells that tap into the Utica, the Mahoning Valley should hear about pipeline and midstream factory projects as BP alone expects to invest $100 million in Trumbull drilling operations.
As Energy Institute President and CEO Karen Harbert said last week, ''Shale energy is a game-changer for America and for Ohio.''
And for the Mahoning Valley.