FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Northern Arkansas' Fayetteville shale formation will have an estimated $5.5 billion economic impact on the state through 2008, according to a study done by the University of Arkansas.
The study, conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, says the natural gas formation has the potential to be a massive revenue generator over the next 10 to 15 years, creating nearly 10,000 jobs and bringing in more than $357 million in tax dollars.
The natural gas formation's "greatest benefits to the state of Arkansas are that it will provide an economic stimulus and will diversify the employment base, reducing the dependence on manufacturing and retail, and providing many jobs with above-average pay," said Jeff Collins, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, in a prepared statement. "In addition, one of our biggest national challenges is the growing shortage and rising cost of energy. The Fayetteville Shale ... has the potential to make Arkansas a major player on the national energy production scene."
The six-month study was paid for by Southwestern Energy Company and examined 10 counties: Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Independence, Johnson, Prairie, St. Francis, Van Buren, White and Woodruff.
State figures show that gas production from the Fayetteville shale amounted to less than 2 percent of the state's total last year. Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co. and Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. have leased a total of about 1.88 million acres of subsurface rights in Arkansas to explore what the shale might hold. Southwestern expects to have about 150 people based in Conway this year.
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