Guest Column: Despite downturn, Ohio’s oil and gas industry more important than ever

Dayton Business Journal

Rhonda Reda

September 22, 2015

There is no question, it’s tough times for Ohio’s oil and gas industry. Prices for crude oil and natural gas are at their lowest levels in decades. The downturn in prices and drilling activity has caused many people to ask the questions: Is Ohio’s oil and gas industry still a major contributor to our local economy? How important in this industry to the average Ohioan? The answers are unequivocally yes and in fact more important now than ever.

As energy, economics and jobs dominate the headlines, a homegrown industry continues to supply these benefits to the Buckeye State. Ohio has a long and proud oil and gas history. In fact, Ohio’s oil and gas industry has been producing crude oil and natural gas from various geological formations beneath our feet for more than 150 years.

The past several years has also brought many new companies, jobs and innovations to Ohio’s industry, leading to unprecedented and record energy production levels. As a result, Ohioans are intertwined with the state’s oil and gas industry more than ever before.

In 2013, the Energy Information Administration reported that Ohioans used approximately 913 billion cubic feet of natural gas to heat our homes, power our electricity generation plans and to operate our businesses, schools, hospitals and factories. In fact, Ohio ranks 7th in the country for natural gas consumption, and seven out of every 10 Ohio homes use natural gas as its primary heating source. By the end of 2015, it is projected that Ohio may produce enough natural gas to fulfill all of our local energy needs.

Today, Ohioans use crude oil and natural gas for much more than heating or power. In fact, crude oil and natural gas are an integral part of our daily lives unaffected by current market or weather conditions. More than 6,000 products are produced, wholly or in part, from Ohio’s 60,000 crude oil and natural gas wells. Life saving products such as medicines and artificial hearts wouldn’t exist without petroleum products. Synthetic rubbers and fabric, asphalts and computer components are made from crude oil and natural gas. Waxes, paints and inks are too; as are hundreds of the personal care products used around our homes.

And of course, plastic and most fuels would not be possible without petroleum. Simply put, Ohioans can not live their daily lives without using petroleum based products. In fact, the average person uses the equivalent of three gallons of refined petroleum-based products each and every day.

This Ohio industry is directly part of every Ohioan’s life. Our standard and cost of living would be harder and higher without petroleum products, and our life expectancy would be dramatically shorter without oil and gas development. Through new technologies and advanced production techniques, Ohio’s oil and gas industry continues to innovate to enhance production efficiency while minimizing environmental impact.

The state of Ohio’s oil and gas industry matters to everyone because it’s a part of who we are, what we do and how we do it. Keeping our energy dollars and energy jobs at home is also positive for the economy and our natural security. Now more than ever, we need to continue to support local energy production, pipelines and processing/cracking facilities and refineries that will continue to benefit all Ohioans.

Rhonda Reda is executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program