Marcellus Shale conventions to proliferate
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Opening the Marcellus Midstream conference Tuesday morning, the president of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association offered a variation on that famous "Field of Dreams" movie adage, "Build it and they will come."
Louis D'Amico's take: "Drill it and they will come."
If the upcoming schedule of conventions is any indication, it looks like they'll keep coming.
The Marcellus Midstream conference that opened Tuesday kicked off a yearlong array of conventions, expos and gatherings around the region spurred by the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas industry. The event was presented by Dallas-based energy publisher Hart Energy at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
More than 2,000 natural gas wells have been drilled statewide as energy companies tap the lucrative Marcellus Shale natural gas formation that runs from West Virginia to New York. The shale rock resting 7,000 feet below ground contains enough natural gas to rank it as the world's second-most prosperous, said Mr. D'Amico.
A cottage industry of ancillary companies already has formed around the 3-year-old phenomenon -- so much so that the offshoot companies that comprise midstream operations need their own convention.
"Midstream" businesses are those that deal with the treatment of the extracted gas. That can include natural gas compression, storage, transportation or processing. The "upstream" part of the process deals with exploration and production, while the "downstream" segment is geared toward generated power or household use.
Despite what Mr. D'Amico called a stagnant economy, a Tuesday presentation by Texas-based venture capitalists highlighted the national financial focus on shale exploration in Pennsylvania.
Energy Spectrum Capital of Dallas expects to close total 2011 fundraising at between $900 million and $950 million, said Ben Davis, a partner at the firm. Mr. Davis highlighted three clients in Pennsylvania that have used the funds to build out gas processing stations.
Stonehenge Energy Resources of Westminster, Colo., is using the capital to build a compression station that will service Butler County and parts of Beaver County. Compression stations help prepare the extracted gas for transportation. Construction on compressor stations and actual wells is expected to pick up as the weather warms.
So will the expo circuit: You could really make a social life out of shale conventions after Marcellus Midstream closes today.
Monday kicks off the International Quality and Productivity Center's Marcellus Shale Gas Environmental Summit at Downtown's Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, followed on March 31 by the National Association of Royalty Owners' first convention in State College. Early April sees a symposium at the University of Pittsburgh on "Developing the Law of the Marcellus Shale," and the confirmed schedules of conferences and conventions remains full through May. (For a complete listing of shale-related events, go to www.post-gazette.com/pipeline/).
The new regional focus on energy has proven convenient for Terry Gower, a field sales representative for HB Rentals, a Broussard, La.-based company that specializes in on-site housing for workers.
Mr. Gower works out of the firm's Canonsburg office but is used to traveling to energy production capitals in the South. His itinerary should keep him a little closer to home in the next year.
"I'll be running from New York to West Virginia," he said.
He could actually stay right where he is: Over his left shoulder in the convention hall, a banner above the exit asked visitors to "Save the Date" for the Developing Unconventional Gas expo in November.
First Published March 23, 2011 12:00 am