OUR OPINION: Oil, gas production flows to Mississippi’s advantage

By NEMS Daily Journal

The International Energy Agency announced this month that the United States will become the world’s largest oil producer by 2017 and a net oil exporter by 2030.
That strongly positive news could be one of the factors that knocks the monkey off America’s economic back, a direct result of advancing technology that makes possible the use of petroleum resources previously inaccessible or too costly to access.
Mississippi, which is an energy producing state for oil and natural gas, could be a major beneficiary of the increasing production of both resources here and elsewhere, Mississippi Energy Institute chief Patrick Sullivan said in response to Daily Journal questions about the news.
Some of what Sullivan said has been reported, but the optimistic outlook about oil and natural gas plays to another of Mississippi’s under-appreciated manmade assets, in pipelines feeding the Atlantic coast and New England from refineries and, for now, imported petroleum
Sullivan said, “In a macroeconomic context, the development of oil and natural gas from these formations that historically were not economically productive looks to provide the U.S. major supply and cost advantages, more so in natural gas than in oil, at least for now. On the natural gas side, the implication for Mississippi is our state has more natural gas pipeline activity than any other state (tops in volume transported and 4th in miles of pipeline).
“In looking at development advantages long-term, we have major supply capability advantages, and if the production in the Marcellus region results in excess pipeline capacity as is expected (pipelines going through Mississippi have historically moved gas from west and Gulf to East Coast and northern markets), Mississippi may see some price advantages in the future as the transporters are looking for new destinations for gas produced west of us or in the Gulf.”
Some Mississippi leaders have already made energy development an economic growth priority, but the specificity of the new report on U.S. production adds urgency to opportunity.
“On oil,” Sullivan noted, “my opinion is it’s similar to the natural gas situation, but due to oil markets being much more global with relative ease of transporting overseas, the price differences aren’t nearly as wide as you see with global natural gas prices. However, West Texas Intermediate has consistently been less expensive than other markets due to oversupply, and we’re close to WTI. If the U.S. continues to export more refined oil products, there could be opportunities for Mississippi through refining, shipping, or transporting.”
New opportunity, as stressed repeatedly at the CREATE Foundation 40th anniversary celebration Thursday night in Tupelo, depends heavily on raising the educational attainment level so that the work force can take advantage and prosper with a new economy.
Opportunity knocks, and opening the door depends on us.