With the structural steel for Noble Energy’s new regional headquarters rising behind him, Gov. Tom Corbett said Tuesday projects like it and many others in Southpointe II signify “a great day in Western Pennsylvania … but also a great day for the United States” where energy independence is concerned.
Corbett was the keynote speaker as Noble Energy announced its commitment as the primary tenant in the Town Square Center building, taking 139,000 square feet of the 207,000-square-foot structure being built by Horizon Properties.
The company, which is a partner in Marcellus Shale development and production with its Southpointe neighbor, Consol Energy, said it plans to move into the building in the first quarter of 2015.
Noble President and Chief Operating Officer David Stover recalled when the Houston, Texas-based company arrived here in late 2011 and took office space for a dozen employees; on his first visit he saw “a card table with a bunch of phones on it and a sign that said, ‘Open for Business.’”
Since that time, Noble, which currently has offices elsewhere in Southpointe, expanded its operations rapidly as it worked with Consol to open natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale.
Today, he said, Noble has nearly 150 employees and will have close to 200 by the end of the year.
A leading independent energy company engaged in worldwide oil and gas exploration and production, its operations in the Marcellus Shale play in Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2013 “contributed 9 percent of our total volumes. And over the next five years, production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 46 percent,” Stover said.
According to Stover, since it arrived here, 86 percent of Noble’s hires have been from Southwestern Pennsylvania.
He added that Noble expects to keep growing its operations here, noting that its new space can accommodate 400 employees.
David Spigelmyer, president of Marcellus Shale Coalition, noted that in 2008, Pennsylvania’s annual natural gas production was 182 billion cubic feet. Today, he said the industry produces 14 billion cubic feet per day and 5 trillion cubic feet annually.
“Twenty percent of the (U.S.) natural gas supply is now coming from the Appalachian Basin,” he said.
The growth of the energy industry here was on Corbett’s mind as well on Tuesday.
“Pennsylvania is becoming an energy supplier to the world,” he said.
In the process, the continuing development of the Marcellus Shale has helped to lower the state’s unemployment level to its lowest point in years, Corbett said.
“We’ve recovered almost every job that was lost in Pennsylvania during the Great Recession,” Corbett said, adding that 70 percent of Marcellus jobs are now held by Pennsylvanians.
He added that the volume of natural gas coming from the Marcellus now makes Pennsylvania the No. 2 natural gas producer in the country, as well as second in the country for electric generation.
The state also is the second largest generator of energy from nuclear and is fourth in the country in coal production.
“We want to make Pennsylvania a (destination) for every energy company in the United States that wants to expand and hire right here in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said. “We’re building a stronger Pennsylvania and a stronger nation, and that’s where we should be going.”
During a brief meeting with reporters following his remarks, Corbett noted that no state money was used in Noble’s project here.
Rod Piatt, president of Horizon Properties, said the project is being built entirely with private investment.
Corbett said he had no new news on the proposed Shell ethane cracker plant, adding that he remains confident the company will decide to locate it in Beaver County.