Speaking at the City Club of Cleveland last Friday, the head of the American Petroleum Institute (API) said the state of Ohio is experiencing an energy “rebirth” as a result of the surge in shale gas development and that it could be a game changer for jobs and economic growth in the state.

“Ohio has immense opportunities to create thousands of jobs thanks to the Utica and Marcellus shale plays,” said API President Jack Gerard. “Responsible energy production has already generated more than $22 billion for the Buckeye State. It is the industry’s use of new technology like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that has given fresh life to energy development in Ohio.”

A March poll of likely Ohio voters, conducted by bipartisan groups Public Opinion Strategies and Frederick Polls on behalf of API, found that 73% of the state’s voters favor more development of U.S. oil and natural gas resources, according to the producer group.It said most voters (91%) agreed that more domestic oil and gas development would lead to more U.S. jobs, increase the nation’s security (81%), help reduce consumer energy costs (84%), and deliver more revenue to the government (75%).

Three-fourths of the votes (74%) said they believed that lawmakers in Washington were intentionally delaying domestic oil and gas development, potentially hurting the economy and leading to higher energy costs for consumers.

Everyone agrees that development of the Utica shale will bring more jobs to Ohio, but they disagree on how many. One academic study, which was released in February, said natural gas and oil drilling in Ohio could create 65,000 jobs and add nearly $5 billion to state coffers by 2014 (see Shale Daily, Feb. 29).

Energy, economics and geology experts from Cleveland State University, Ohio State University and Marietta College’s Department of Petroleum were asked by the Ohio Shale Coalition, led by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, to investigate the nature and amount of economic activity likely to be spurred by unconventional energy development.

On Utica Shale development alone, Ohio’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2014 was predicted to jump by $4.9 billion, “equal to a 1% increase in the real value of Ohio’s GDP — greater than the average annual growth rate in Ohio for the past 13 years (0.6%),” according to the study. It expects to see an additional 65,680 jobs created.

But another study, conducted by an economics professor at Ohio State University, said it would be more realistic to project that shale development in the Utica would create only 20,000 jobs over the next four years in Ohio (see Shale Daily, Dec. 20, 2011).

Gerard said that “if we take lessons from states like Pennsylvania and North Dakota, [we] can create a bright economic future for Ohio, but we need public and tax policies that will bring investment and jobs to the state, not drive them away.”