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Titusville charts course to reap new oil jobs

TITUSVILLE — The world’s first oil region is positioning itself for a second energy boom, from the Utica Shale formation.

Titusville municipal and development officials hope to attract the lucrative oil and gas industry “back to where it all started.” The Titusville region was the birthplace of the petroleum industry when Edwin Drake successfully drilled for oil there in 1859.

That boom could be repeated when the industry turns full attention to the oil- and gas-rich Utica Shale, according to a strategic plan commissioned by Titusville officials.

The plan is a blueprint for what needs to be done locally, regionally and at the state level, in both public and private initiatives, to attract 21st century oil industry business and jobs, said James Becker, executive director of the Titusville Redevelopment Authority.

One surprising thing on the to-do list is building upscale housing, said Deb Eckelberger, business outreach coordinator for the Redevelopment Authority.

“If we’re going to attract industry, we need to have executive-level housing with a lot of amenities. Older communities don’t always have that, but we do have vacant parcels here and opportunities for developers or individuals to build those kind of homes,” Eckelberger said.

Also on the to-do list are infrastructure and transportation improvements, enhanced medical services and workforce development and training, including helping existing businesses find new work and new markets in the energy industry.

Related: State shifts jobs effort

“The city right now is upgrading its wastewater treatment plant, which will accommodate new industry,” Eckelberger said. “We already have ample, and good, water. So those are positives, examples of the things that we already have.”

Another positive: Titusville welcomes the oil and gas industry, Eckelberger said.

“We have that history of oil and gas here. We’re understanding of the industry and are accepting of it. That makes us very welcoming,” she said.

Utica Shale is an oil- and gas-rich rock formation deep below most of Pennsylvania and other parts of the eastern U.S. and Canada. The shale contains about 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about 940 million barrels of oil and about 280 million barrels of liquid natural gas, according to 2012 U.S. Geological Survey estimates. Drilling techniques in use on Marcellus Shale can be applied to the deeper Utica formation, but extensive drilling in the shale could be years away, perhaps when the shallower Marcellus is depleted.

That gives Titusville time to position itself for the Utica boom.

“We have lots to do and plan to move forward quickly on the key recommendations,” Becker said in a statement last week. “Shale gas development can be a game changer for our region.”

The Titusville Area Shale Strategic Plan was partially based on interviews with industry leaders and business and civic leaders in communities already doing significant business with the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas. It was developed with help from CMK Planning LLC of North East and Wunz Associates LLC of Lewisburg and was funded by a $33,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.


This article was written by Valerie Myers from Erie Times-News, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.