Gulfport Energy has made many headlines in the Utica Shale since it began operations in 2012, but none are as impactful to local residents as the one the company made last week. At a recent ribbon cutting ceremony for their brand new regional office in St. Clairsville, Gulfport Energy announced it was partnering with the Foundation for Appalachia Ohio to create the Gulfport Energy Fund, which will support local leaders in schools, nonprofits, and other community organizations. As part of their philanthropic effort in Ohio, Gulfport Energy has pledged $400,000 to offer assistance in the counties where they operate.
Gulfport Energy is currently the second most permitted operator in the Utica Shale with over 129 permits. Gulfport currently operates five of the ten highest producing natural gas wells in the Utica, and it intends to develop the Utica for many years to come. This much is evident in their acquiring of over 179,000 net acres, making it the largest basin in which they operate:
“We are going to be here for a long time … We have come a long way. This is a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous responsibility to give back to the community. This is our second home; we want to be good neighbors.” -Gulfport Energy President and CEO Michael Moore
At a meeting with Guernsey County officials at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center, Gulfport Energy President and CEO Michael Moore discussed the creation of the fund:
“We see the challenges facing these counties and want to support their efforts to create opportunities for their citizens. We at Gulfport Energy believe philanthropy is an essential part of growing stronger communities. The Fund will award grants through a competitive application process. Applications will be accepted from tax-exempt organizations serving counties where Gulfport has a presence — Guernsey, Harrison, Belmont and Monroe, and eventually Noble.”
The Gulfport Energy Fund will be run through the Foundation of Appalachia Ohio, which has a long and trusted history of identifying worthwhile projects for counties in the eastern part of the state. The fund will be used primarily for education efforts in the five county region, as Moore added:
“Education is the key to success, we will focus on education first to help make generational changes, to help create a different kind of social structure. We believe in the power of philanthropy. With all the new money coming into the area, I think philanthropy will help foster that change over the next several years.”
Of course, Gulfport Energy is not alone in its philanthropic efforts. Since Utica Shale development began in 2011, Chesapeake, CONSOL, REX Energy, EdgeMarc and PDC Energy have all made it a priority to provide philanthropic opportunity to the communities in which they operate.
The oil and gas industry is providing numerous benefits to eastern Ohio in terms of jobs, economic growth and lower energy prices. The philanthropic efforts put forth like the one by Gulfport Energy show that these companies appreciate the welcoming they have received, and are more than willing to give back to the communities where they have and will continue to operate for many years to come.