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And so it begins. Friday was a historic day for the U.S. energy industry and our always evolving natural gas business in particular. After a series of delays, Dominion Energy shipped out its first LNG cargo from $4 billion Cove Point export terminal in Maryland. This becomes our second LNG export facility following Cheniere Energy’s startup at Sabine Pass in Louisiana two years ago.

By Chris Ventura

A rally on the steps of the West Virginia Capitol is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 21. Energy workers, many in the oil and natural gas sectors, will attend. The rally will center on energy policy, according to reports, and how it impacts the industry they work in.

You should join them.

Yes, the energy sector is the backbone of the state’s economy. West Virginia is the ninth-largest natural gas-producing state, with reserves and production increasing with drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

If you talk to those in the natural gas industry, they will tell you that West Virginia sits at the epicenter of what could potentially be the economic development future of the Mountain State — if not the nation.

The Marcellus and Utica natural gas fields are deep, rich and plentiful. And with planned pipelines and talk of a storage and trading hub, the industry is on the tip of a major boom.

But it’s not there yet, according to industry leaders. Natural gas is still selling at around $2 per MCF. That’s not very profitable for companies that are spending millions, if not billions, of dollars trying to extract it from the ground.

West Virginia’s natural gas industry made tremendous strides in 2017. Natural gas production increased, interstate gas pipelines were approved, progress was made toward developing a regional gas liquids storage and trading hub and, incredibly, China Energy proposes to invest billions of dollars in the state’s energy, chemical and manufacturing industries.

This is all great news and tremendously beneficial for West Virginia’s long-term economic and job prospects. However, the missing component necessary to truly maximize the opportunities the gas industry offers — and to compete with our surrounding states — is the passage of co-tenancy legislation.

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