ShureLine Construction was one of more than 700 that attended Tri-County Oil and Gas Expo. The originally anticipated attendance of only 250 was a severe underestimation with the ever growing fervor surrounding the Marcellus Shale play. The pinnacle moment of the weekend seemed to be the mixer held at the Hilton Gardens in Southpointe where presenters essentially echoed what seems to quickly becoming a battle cry of those currently engaged in unconventional gas industry or striving to break in like many there: Welcome to the gold rush of our lifetime. The scope and scale of what we currently know to be the projected daily production cubic feet of natural gas (NG) available with the Marcellus is approximately 550 MMCF and climbing to 2900 MMCF per day by 2012. However, with innovations in geology and seismology techniques used to determine the virtual topography of the shale and the subsequent available NG and oil, as well as the potentiality for the price per cf of NG to drop to a point of greater economic feasibility and create the possibility of drilling deeper than is currently fiscally solvent to do so, there exists distinct possibility that we’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg.
While every foreseeable business was in attendance at the Washington County Fairgrounds, with vendors spilling out into the unseasonably cold, blustery day and sandwiched throughout the halls there were three breakout sessions being rotated throughout the day. The sessions addressed questions on every business owner’s mind: how to gain traction with the oil and gas companies (both on the exploration and Procurement (E&P) and midstream sides)and become an approved vendor, business opportunities available and how to leverage numerous local, university, foundation, and governmental resources to obtain financing and an overview of the regulatory framework that governs the oil and gas industry in PA as well as OHSA requirements as they pertain to working within the industry. CNX Gas, EQT Corporation, Admiral Well & Platinum Pressure Services, Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Range Resources, Marathon Oil, and the Southwestern regional office of the PA DEP were among the presenters. I was surprised that the breakout sessions weren’t better attended, however, there seemed to be a lack of clear promotion online and many exhibitors had no idea there were sessions available. Surprisingly, there were many members of the community present who shared their experiences (which were echoed by homemade signs I saw driving around that admonished certain O& G's for their water gluttony) with drilling operations and the DEP, both positive and negative. As an aside, as operations within the Marcellus ramp up, the coal industry must be feeling the heat I noticed the deeper I drove into to former coal country now being threatened by cleaner unconventional NG production, the billboards and commercials proclaiming the need to preserve the industry were inundating me at an alarming rate that reeked of desperation. Interestingly enough, they were followed by NG commercials touting the clean energy benefits beneath our feet that would give the PA job market and economy the shot in the arm that it needs. Despite its momentous efforts, it definitely appears that the coal industry is hanging on by its fingertips. O&G has come in like gang busters, the focus on cleaner emissions and lessening our carbon footprint through retrofitting current coal fired power plants, has signed the walking papers for the coal industry. There is so much more to be said about this weekend’s B to B that I can’t possibly capture here: my own self-guided tour of a drill site (aka, I drove around until I found a rig and a MarkWest processing plant as well as a frac water staging area and where it took water from the local lake...I took pictures as well, will post soon), Frach Tech frac water stating area and processing plant. Although my thoughts may seem mundane or routine for those of you that live within drilling territory, bear in mind that I live and am from an area where this issue is still just contemporary "folklore" and intangible, despite believing its existence of course. I welcome you to contact me to discuss.