Ukrainian government officials visit Carnegie, learn about shale gas

Published Jun 25, 2013 at 10:00 am (Updated Jun 25, 2013 at 10:00 am)

Several Ukrainian leaders and public officials visiting the area were welcomed by clergy and members from St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Carnegie on June 24. The group of about 10 Ukrainian leaders included members of parliament and other public officials. They visited the South Hills area with Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, who had invited the group to come to the area to learn more about shale gas exploration.

“We were more than willing to host,” said Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek about having the Ukrainian leaders visit the borough. “It does a lot for our community.”

Kenneth LaSota, mayor of the borough of Heidelberg, was also on hand to greet the group, and said many Heidelberg residents go to church at St. Peter and St. Paul’s, which is one of the largest Ukrainian Orthodox congregations in the area.

Father Steve Repa of St. Peter and St. Paul greeted the group in the church’s sanctuary and spoke with them in their native language, welcoming them to the church. Repa said he told the group about the history of Ukrainians in America and how they came together to form their own churches.

Msgr. George Appleyard, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie, and Timothy Thompson, pastor of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks, were also on hand to welcome the group.

Sergey Klyuiev, member of Ukrainian Parliament and head of Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee for Relations with the U.S., headed the group of visitors.

“We have a very big delegation,” he said. He said the group came to the United States earlier this year for the same reason – to learn about shale gas exploration and learn about the technical and environmental side of shale gas.

Ukraine recently signed a $10 billion production agreement with Shell and has completed negotiations with Chevron on a second shale gas project. The country has been looking to reduce its dependence on foreign sources of energy and is looking at how it can utilize the gas that is underground.

“We’re excited to have them here in the U.S.,” Murphy said. He said while in the area, he wanted the group to ask every possible question about shale gas exploration. Murphy added that natural gas is three to four times more expensive in Ukraine than in the U.S. “They’re blessed with their own shale and they want to do it right,” Murphy said.

Murphy said Carnegie was chosen to host the reception for the group, “because of the churches and the Ukrainian population here.”

After the initial welcome, the Ukrainian group was invited to the church’s fellowship hall for a reception which featured traditional Ukrainian food and drink.

While in town, the group also visited a shale gas company in Southpointe to see how the development here is bringing jobs to the area.

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