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Business To Business Expo Hopes To Profit From Gas Industry

By Staff | Sep 22, 2009

HUGHESVILLE – Networking definitely helps get business as the first oil and gas expo was held on Saturday at the Hughesville fairgrounds so local businesses can tap into resources from the Marcellus Shale natural gas exploration industry.

With construction soon to start in October on 24 acres in Montgomery, Halliburton, a global company, was one of the main sponsors of the event. Headquartered in Houston, Texas and founded in 1919, they are one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the oil and gas industry. “Montgomery will be the fourth facility to be located in Pennsylvania,” said Perry Harris, district manager for the Northeast. “The facility so far will be our largest,” he said.

The expo was a start to bring together local businesses and developers to partner with the Marcellus Shale Exploration project where some of the work has already begun in the Hughesville and Picture Rocks corridor. “We will be hiring local people and contractors to do the work,” said Perry. “Our work will allow us to do oil and gas cementing, hydraulic fracturing, wire line and perforating.” 15 million dollars have been invested over the next two years to provide a maintenance facility, warehouse and offices. The company hopes to add 300 jobs in the area over the next three years. Hiring will start in October according to Perry. A cement bulk plant and warehouse will be the first project the company is going to take on after the facility is fenced, lighted and graveled.

Matt Henderson, business consultant with the Small Business Development Center at Lock Haven University was one of the main organizers of the event and began doing some outreach and training since May. Working with the Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania, the Williamsport Lycoming Chamber of Commerce and the Penn State Cooperative Extension, they were able to put together the expo to help promote the benefits and employment opportunities that are expected to boost the area’s economy within the next ten years.

Businesses came from Center, Clinton, Lycoming, Snyder, Northumberland, and Union counties to make connections. Over 130 vendors and 150 business owners were spread out among three buildings. “It became apparent quickly that the Fairgrounds would be the best location for something of this size to showcase heavy equipment,” said Henderson.

Local vendors said they felt the expo was well worth it. Keystone Advertising Specialties from Muncy said they made lots of good contacts. Barry Thomas, general manager from Montour in Montoursville said they supply fuel to the companies coming into the area and are very enthusiastic about the industry here. Field-Tec, a hydraulics repair company from East Lycoming said they will be able to loan their equipment to the project. “We are pleased with picking up more business with these drilling companies,” said Todd Yerger, Parts Manager.

Over 1,000 visitors came to gather the information and network. Dave Miele and his wife, Monica from Hillside Catering were passing out business cards and made good contacts for meetings and catered luncheons. It was a win-win situation. Both vendors and attendees were able to benefit from the showcase. A similar event is being planned in Bradford County.

There are six drilling rigs in Lycoming County according to Thomas Murphy, educator with the Penn State Cooperative Extension. A community task force has been organized to oversee the development. Estimates of the shale’s value, which primarily runs below Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, have been put around $1 trillion – give or take a billion according to Penn State. Pennsylvania has spent over 5 billion dollars since 2007 and expect to spend 50 billion more over the course of its development lifetime.

Statewide, Pennsylvania is expected to see a boon from landowner royalties. The personal income they may generate is expected to translate into more purchases of goods, increasing the output of Pennsylvania industries and improving the income of state workers, which in turn attracts more workers to the state.

“Royalties are likely to be substantially greater than upfront checks,” said Murphy. “Landowners are coming in looking for unbiased information to make sound decisions as they explore these new found opportunities.”

In the last few months, statewide public meetings offered by Penn State Cooperative Extension educators on natural gas exploration and leasing have been standing-room-only events. Landowners have been interested in learning whether their properties sit above a treasure of natural gas and how they might be able to sell drilling rights to natural gas companies. Although gas leases have been around for years, the money offered per acre has risen dramatically, especially since a recent study by professors from Penn State and the State University of New York at Fredonia discovered much more gas than was originally thought.

“It has been worth the work put into planning this expo,” said Henderson. Only one good contact was all that was needed to make the day a success.