Water is essential for life, industry

Water, we can’t live without it. We turn the tap and clean water comes out. We usually don’t give it a thought. How many times have we driven across a bridge between Parkersburg and Marietta and thought about what a blessing the Ohio River is and how few people around the world have access to this volume of water? Almost 40 billion gallons of water flow through the MOV every single day.

I still remember our first family vacation to south Texas. We decided to visit Mexico across the Rio Grande River. I was excited. I was finally going to see the river I had seen in cowboy movies since I was a kid.

What a disappointment. It was so small. It reminded me of a creek in West Virginia or Ohio. In developing countries around the world women spend much of their day getting water and most of it isn’t even fit to drink.

Even in our own country water and water rights are very important west of the Mississippi River. Our trips to Arizona are a reminder on how unique a river like the Ohio is. We happened to be in Phoenix on the day of their first significant rain in months. It was the lead story on the news. We would call it a brief shower here. The brown and orange landscape has a beauty all its own. Cacti are fascinating to look at. But it felt good to get back home to rivers, lakes, green grass and trees with leaves.

Here is the list of the leading world natural gas producing countries in 2016.

Where would you choose to locate a manufacturing or petrochemical plant?

1.USA 750 BCM- Abundant cheap energy and plenty of water (especially the MOV)

2.RUSSIA 628 BCM- Russia has plenty of water but a lot of other issues

3.IRAN 190 BCM- Not a lot of water and many challenges for business, don’t get the Ayatollah mad at you.

4.QATAR 167 BCM- nice country but fresh water issues.

5.CANADA 165 BCM- most of this gas is in western Canada where there is little water

6.China 137 BCM- water is less of a problem but clean water is a problem. Affordable, abundant energy is an issue.

This is why we believe we can bring industry to the MOV. The Ohio River provides abundant drinking water and water for industrial processing. The Ohio River can be used to ship goods in and out. It connects the MOV to the world on water. The Ohio River was an essential part of Shell’s decision to build their Pennsylvania cracker where they are. Most of the cracker will be built off site and floated up the Ohio River on barges to the plant site where they will be assembled.

The Ohio River is also a source of meaningful, high paying jobs. The American Waterways Organization reports that over 20,000 Ohio jobs can be associated with the river system. Marathon Petroleum Corporation is one of the largest shippers on the Ohio River. I spoke with Dr. George McAfee recently, who heads Commercial Development for Marathon’s Marine Transportation Division. I learned that they have explored the development of a Deckhand Training program with Washington State Community College. In addition, there is a high demand for vessel engineers who carry diesel mechanic credentials. Did you know that a tugboat captain earns as much as $150,000 a year? Lock attendants can earn as much as $60,000 year.

We may not think about the Ohio River as a source of high wage jobs but that is exactly what it is. Few places on earth have water and cheap, abundant energy. This makes the MOV an ideal place for the petrochemical industry and manufacturers to locate and or expand. We all need to tell this story. It is good news. Shale Crescent will be telling it at the Global Plastics Conference in Chicago in October and in the media to anyone who will listen.


Greg Kozera is the Director of Marketing for Shale Crescent USA www.shalecrescentusa.com . He has over 40 years of experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and the author of four books and numerous published articles.