West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania have agreed to work together to maximize growth in the shale gas industry.

The three neighboring states in the Appalachian Basin plan to discuss how they can cooperate in marketing efforts to attract new businesses, strengthen workforce development programs, spur investments in expanding infrastructure and delivery of natural gas and liquids, and encourage academic institutions to expand and collaborate on research.

The three-year agreement was signed at this week’s inaugural Tri-State Shale Summit in Morgantown, West Virginia, by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

Gov. Tomblin suggested that the three states are not in competition with each other for development projects. Instead, they are competing with other regions such as the Gulf Coast and its well-established petrochemical industry, local newspaper The Exponent Telegram reported.

“We don’t talk about the individual states of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and so forth. We talk about the Gulf Coast when we think about (ethane) crackers and when we think about energy,” Gov. Tomblin explained. “We have the opportunity here in the Appalachian Basin to be considered as a group, because all three states are producing the same product here, or very similar products.”

“The issues and opportunities facing our growing oil and gas industry do not recognize state lines, making it essential that we work together to help ensure the continued growth we expect to see,” added Lt. Gov. Taylor. “We are seeing tremendous and continued growth in this industry and we know that can be strengthened by partnering on key areas.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Gov. Wolf, who said: “In order to maximize this development in an environmentally safe way, we must work together. We must support development processes that add value to these resources.”