SUNBURY, Pa. - Clean Harbors Inc. senior vice president Scott Metzger pulled into the dirt lot of a once-abandoned factory yard here, past gleaming trucks painted with the Norwell, Mass., company’s signature red, and opened the door to the environmental services firm’s newest offices.
It is the third property Clean Harbors has opened or acquired in Pennsylvania in the past year, as the company rides the drilling boom that is unlocking natural gas and oil from shale deposits and increasing demand for its know-how in avoiding, reducing, and cleaning up environmental damage. Last year, work for the shale industry generated 25 percent of Clean Harbors’ $2 billion in revenues, and that number is only expected to grow.
“We just see a tremendous market that needs all of the services we provide,’’ said chief executive Alan McKim, who estimated his company’s shale-related business is growing about 25 percent a year. “In the US, there’s huge potential.’’
Clean Harbors is just one example of how the unlocking of natural gas reserves hundreds of miles away promises to benefit Massachusetts companies and the state economy. At first glance, the abundant supplies in Northeast shale formations offer lower energy costs for businesses and consumers; Lexington forecasting firm IHS Global Insight estimates that lower natural gas prices will save households an average of $926 a year through 2015.
But as Clean Harbors also shows, booming gas production is providing a market for one of the state’s main exports: expertise. Consulting, financial services, and even technology firms are finding new customers in the shale industry.
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