Training new workers will become an increasingly critical factor in the next few years.
"We need technical skills," Felmy said. "We have started developing relationships with universities and community colleges throughout the county."
Felmy estimates up to 50 percent of oil and gas industry workers may retire within the next 10 years.
Natural gas companies can expect particularly dramatic growth. Today, just three percent of all natural gas produced in the United States is used for transportation.
Homes and communities, industrial operations and electric power generating plants each consume about one-third of the other 97 percent of natural gas produced annually.
Today, 62 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. comes from oil and natural gas, 20 percent from coal, eight percent from nuclear plants and nine percent from renewable energy generation.
Describing himself as a "Penn State Blue Dog Democrat" and a "conservative Democrat," Felmy said, "The West Coast provides enormous challenges for refineries.... With all the rules and regulations in California, I do not expect a new refinery to be built there."
Felmy expects only a couple of new nuclear plants will be built anywhere in the U.S. in the near future.
"The capital costs of producing coal and nuclear energy are so high compared to natural gas."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-3485164.