Not Around, But Nearby

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The opening of a natural gas production plant two weeks ago in Doddridge County was an example of shale drilling development going on just east of Wood County. But local economic leaders believe some of the benefits from that are being felt here. One thing those drilling areas don't have in abundance, is motels.

"At different points in time, it's challenging to get a hotel room in and around this area, because this is a central area for a lot of those workers and staff to stay," says Jill Parsons, President of the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce. "Also, the service industry, the parts providers, anyone who supplies services to the oil and gas companies are also having a positive impact, so that's good."

Wood County is not, as Commission President Blair Couch says, an extraction-based economy. That means it hasn't traditionally had the natural resources other West Virginia counties do. there is research of deeds going on, but no drilling permits yet issued. One benefit it does hope to get from the drilling business is the much-discussed "cracker" plant.

"We're still hopeful we'll see a large cracker, that will take that by-product, anywhere in West Virginia, which means jobs," Couch says. "It's still a project which keeps on going down the path, and if we had to guess, we'd hope to hear the good word in 2013.

As it stands, a drilling industry survey says shale energy development will generate $283 million in state and government revenue this year alone, and as much as $884 million by the end of the decade.

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