On May 7, 2015 4:39 pm
By: Kristie Kubovic, Director of Communications, Shale Media Group
Edited By: Mindy Gattner, Editor, Shale Media Group
Photos By: Shale Media Group
The Fourth Annual Ohio Valley Regional Oil & Gas Expo was held April 28-29 in St. Clairsville, Ohio at the James E. Carnes Center in Belmont County. The two-day business to business event kicked off on Tuesday, April 28th with a Network Reception that drew around 500 attendees. Then, on Wednesday, April 29th the Center played host to the all-day Expo and Conference. The expo was sold out and the event brought about 2,500 professionals together. The facility also offered plenty of outside space for large equipment and products.
Eastern Ohio has been a focal point for the shale oil and gas industry due to its prime position in the Appalachian Basin, which is home to the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays. A large portion of the Utica, which covers approximately 170,000 square miles, rests in eastern Ohio. This area has an abundance of wet gases, which translate into oil, ethane, propane, and butane. Due to this, production has been soaring in recent years. For instance, in 2011, the Utica produced 2.56 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas. By 2012, that number was up to 12.83 Bcf. In 2013, it jumped to 100.12 Bcf. Then in 2014 it soared to 452.14 Bcf of gas.
The Utica upstream and midstream sectors aren’t drastically slowing down, despite the current downturn and volatility of the shale oil and gas industry. The Ohio Valley Regional Oil & Gas Expo highlighted this through the expo’s attendance and during the conference.
This year’s conference speakers included: Daniel Rice IV, CEO; Rice Energy; Shawn Bennett, Executive Vice President, Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA); Jimmy Stewart, President, Ohio Gas Association (OGA); George Harakal, President and CEO, TEK Construction Services; and Jackie Stewart, Director, FTI Consulting. The conference was moderated by Tejas Gosai, CEO, Shale Media Group, while Rick Frio, Executive Chairman, MPR Transloading and Energy Services gave the Welcome.
During the Welcome, Frio stated, “The Utica Shale play is the best thing that happened to this region” in his lifetime. Then Gosai set the stage for the day’s discussion which involved the low price of a barrel, the industry’s expansion from northeastern Pennsylvania to southwestern Pennsylvania to eastern Ohio, and the possible ethane cracker plants. Gosai relayed, “Folks are looking to see what’s going to happen. The upstream, midstream, and downstream phases are materializing before our eyes. Reading about energy development is one thing, but seeing it firsthand is a whole other level.”
The first conference speaker, Rice, discussed the reason that Rice Energy chose to work in southeastern Ohio, “We know that the industry prices go up and they come down. We looked all over the US for where we could grow. We settled on southeastern Ohio. One thing about this area—it will work at any price scenario… It is a fantastic liquid rich corridor. Plus the dry gas window of the Utica Shale is going to be prolific. Based on geology, it will be stable as well. This stable foundation is good for the future, where communities and landowners will benefit.”
Rice noted that Washington and Greene Counties in Pennsylvania and Belmont County in Ohio are the three most actively developed counties in the country. He said this presents opportunities for many companies, and that Rice Energy is spending more money in Belmont County now than in years past.
Rice also brought up that the US doesn’t have much control over oil, but this is the region setting the gas price for the market, and it could be around for another 30 years. “This huge economic catalyst set the foundation to keep people and families in this special region for generations. We are excited to be part of these communities,” expressed Rice.
“This is an innovative industry with tools and techniques that are completely different than they were even three years ago,” relayed Rice, while taking questions from the audience. He also answered, “The cracker plants would create more jobs and keep them here, which in turn creates more demand. That is the real power and beauty of the industry—it snowballs. We are excited to see where it goes and are super excited to be a part of it.” Rice concluded by adding that Rice Energy is financially prepared to withstand this current downturn, which is part of the cyclical nature of this business.
During Bennett’s presentation, he discussed the history and importance of gas in Ohio, which is now producing 12.6 million barrels of oil/condensate. He showed that Ohio’s rigs are concentrated in Harrison, Belmont, and Monroe Counties. In addition, Bennett said, “We need to focus on best assets now in these bad times.”
Bennett pointed out scenarios for increased oil prices, which include: “social unrest in Venezuela leading to supply disruptions, ISIS disrupting Iraqi exports, Iranian sanctions being tightened, social unrest in oil-dependent countries leading to supply disruptions, and OPEC cutting output more than projected.” Bennett added, “OPEC’s decision when they meet in June will have big implications,” but he also noted, “We can’t control oil prices, but we do have more control of natural gas prices. We are sitting on the largest natural gas field in the world with the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays, and we need to find end users to utilize our low cost product.” He also noted the Appalachian Basin is becoming its own hub and “Ohioans are saving $6.7 billion a year on natural gas compared to 2008.”
Bennett concluded by discussing Ohio House Bill 64, which he doesn’t think is well written. Bennett says, “The Bill puts a very lofty tax on an infant industry. Plus, it is fundamentally flawed due to the fact that the tax is based off of a national spot price, not the Appalachian price, which is significantly lower. In addition, the bill puts the burden of all 88 Ohio counties on basically the three counties with the most production.” He believes, “If a severance tax moves forward, the industry should be taxed on the price it receives, not what it should be.”
Attendee, Stephanie Rosser, Attorney, Davis Law, informed, “There was such a great turnout today from so many people in different avenues of the industry. Daniel Rice was a great speaker this morning. I was really excited to hear him speak, since I saw him on Mad Money last year. I was very interested to hear what he had to say about the industry.”
“The highlight this year was definitely the speakers. The lineup was absolutely phenomenal. We were really excited to have our CEO Daniel Rice here participating. Plus the other speakers did a phenomenal job,” relayed Kimberly Price, Community Relations Director, Rice Energy, who also added, “We’re really excited about the Expo mostly because in Ohio, Belmont County is our heart of operations. We’re really happy to be here and meet with supply companies. Also our various landowners were really excited to attend the Expo and learn more about what’s going on in the area.”
The Expo, hosted by the Belmont County Commissioners and Belmont County Port Authority and led by Bellaire, Ohio’s MPR Transloading and Energy Services, offered educational and networking opportunities for participants, exhibitors, and speakers. “The Expo has been great so far. We’ve met several companies that we could do business with and on top of that there are several operators here that we work for, so it was nice to meet some different departments within those operators,” explained Shane Hollerich, COO, Kryptonite Energy Services.
“The Expo is a great way to meet people in the industry. If you want to find out what’s happening in the industry and meet people who are doing things in the industry, you have to attend shows like this. You have to attend expos and networking events; you need to do phone calls. There is no one trick that is going to get you success in the industry; you have to do all of them,” stated Tom Foster, Publisher, ONG Marketplace.
Chuck Griffin, Service Manager, Wheeling Spring Service, who has attended the Expo all four years, says, “We attend this show because it brings in a lot of new business and a lot of old business. It also informs us of what we need to have. I would suggest that folks come to just find out what they could do for the industry and what the industry could do for them. This industry is a win for everybody—no matter what aspect of work they do or what type of company you have. It’s a win for everybody.”
“On behalf of the Belmont County Commissioners and Belmont County Port Authority, I’m thrilled to report that the immediate survey findings are that the expo created significant value for our sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees. I’m so very proud of Natalie Brown, Candice King, Nancy Combs, and the entire MPR team for their tireless efforts on this year’s Expo. Plus, Port Authority Director Larry Merry and Glynis Valenti of his team were there every time we needed their assistance,” expressed Frio.
Eastern Ohio continues to evolve because of the Utica Shale play. Frio added, “This show is critical for our region. Our goal is to create value for not only the exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees, but the citizens of Belmont County as well. Record attendance and sold out exhibit space this year was topped off by candid, informative industry leading speakers, including keynote speaker Daniel Rice, CEO of Rice Energy, and a ‘cracker’ update from Commissioner Matt Coffland. We are spry in Belmont County and looking forward to the Oil Gas Expo in 2016.”
Shale Media Group (SMG) is the news, information, and education resource dedicated to the shale oil and gas industries by messaging across video, Internet, publications, events, and radio. For more, check out ShaleMediaGroup.com to access all platforms, including: TheMarcellusShale.com, TheUticaShale.com, and ShaleEnergyNow.com. Kristie Kubovic is the Director of Communications at Shale Media Group. Contact her at Kristie@ShaleMediaGroup.com.