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Summit: Natural gas means economic development for Mississippi

Energy industry stakeholders gathered yesterday at the Unlocking the Value of Natural Gas summit at the Jackson Convention Complex to discuss unique economic opportunities available to Mississippi through the natural gas industry.

Michelle Bloodworth, vice president of business development for ANGA, said, “Mississippi is well-poised from an economic development and a recruiting standpoint to take advantage of natural gas resources.”

Due to significant pipeline infrastructure, Mississippi has more natural gas flowing through it than most states in the country. Manufacturers nationwide look for cheap energy and readily accessible energy supplies when planning plant locations, Bloodworth said.

Because natural gas prices have become low and stable in recent years, Mississippi has an economic development advantage.

America’s new abundance of natural gas — predicted to be a 100-year supply at the current rate of consumption — became possible through a drilling technique called fracking, enabling producers to access to gas in hard rock called shale that has been detected for years.

More than 130 people attended the event hosted by BP, Butler Snow Attorneys and CenterPoint Energy and sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority, Brunini law firm, Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Atmos Energy and others.

Chris McGill of the American Gas Association said that due to technological advancements in drilling the U.S. has increased its natural gas resource base by 80 percent in the past 20 years. This “lends itself to the idea of more natural gas for energy generation and transportation. The question is can we support these markets? The answer is yes, absolutely yes,” he said.

David Shammo of Spectra Energy noted significant tax revenues that multi-billion dollar pipelines bring to the state. Two Spectra pipelines paid $11 million in Mississippi taxes in 2010, he said.

Mississippi also has the geological advantage of underground salt domes, making the state “remarkably positioned for gas storage,” said panelist Wilson Montjoy of Butler Snow.

Ken Nicholson of Clean Energy Fuels addressed developing natural gas filling station infrastructure for high-volume fleet vehicles such buses, taxi cabs and garbage trucks. Partnerships between public and private entities are advantageous in planning stations that the company maintains at locations like the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Waste Management facilities.

(See June 19, 2011 MBJ story: “Alternative fuels put to use in Mississippi.”)


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