Pennsylvania draws mixed grades among oil, gas states

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For those investing in oil and gas ventures, Pennsylvania's appeal ranks somewhere between Texas and Colorado, two other major oil and gas producing states, according to industry executives surveyed by a conservative leaning Canadian think tank.

The Keystone State was rated highly for its fiscal climate, but those polled were apprehensive about its tax climate and environmental regulations, said the Vancouver, Canada-based Fraser Institute.

The state's fiscal climate did well among 73 percent of those polled, while a quarter said Pennsylvania tax issues hamper investment. Meanwhile, a whopping 62 percent said environmental regulations deter investment, more than in any other state except New York, where there is a statewide fracking moratorium, and California.

The Fraser Institute polled 864 executives from 762 oil and gas and service companies this spring to gauge how such variables impact their decisions to invest. More than 150 oil- and gas-rich locations, ranging from Botswana to Brunei, were part of the mix.

Oklahoma, Mississippi and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan were perceived as the friendliest investment climates in North America, while New York and Quebec were at the other end of the spectrum.

Companies working in the Marcellus Shale region that underlies much of Appalachia often complain about a lack of local labor, but executives surveyed for the Fraser report said it's easier finding skilled workers in Pennsylvania than in, say, North Dakota, where the Bakken oil shale is drawing huge development, or in Alaska.

In fact, nearly 70 percent of oil and gas leaders said concerns about a skilled workforce don't interfere with investment in Pennsylvania.

Travis Windle, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry advocacy group based in Robinson, said the results jibe with the overall impressions of its members. "Pennsylvania ... is far from the most competitive in terms of regulatory certainty and taxation," he said.

"Capital is like water," Mr. Windle said. "It seeks the path of least resistance."

Anya Litvak: or 412-263-1455.

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