Marcellus Shale Business Expo attracts thousands
TROY - The sun was shining; blue sky dominated what few clouds there were. The heat that had everyone in Bradford County turning on all of their fans and air conditioners had finally subsided and gave way to a warm, breezy atmosphere.
It was the perfect day for an expo.
That's what happened at Alparon Park in Troy on Saturday, June 23. The Northern Tier Marcellus Shale Business Expo held its third year and featured 240 businesses from all parts of the country, multiple seminars, sophisticated natural gas equipment, raffles and lots of food and refreshments.
"We've had a great turnout, easily between 1,000 and 2,000 people," said Lauren Hotaling, countywide economic development manager for the Progress Authority. "The weather was great, the feedback we've received so far has been positive. Even third-year exhibitors have said they're glad that they've continued to come here."
Exhibitors were extensively varied throughout the expo, ranging from heavy equipment dealers to wildlife experts to woodworking companies.
"We'll build anything if it's made out of wood," President of Woodworking Industries Jack Campbell said. "The housing units used on drilling sites have unique needs. We can build bunk beds and cabinets, for example, specifically designed for the gas companies since they need to be a certain size and still strong enough to accommodate full grown men."
United Drilling was also present to showcase their drilling equipment that the company uses to drill initial holes for Chesapeake Energy.
"The rigs here drill the 'conductor stage', or until we hit solid rock," Representative Keith Williams said. "Normally that means we go down about 100 feet, but it depends on the location. Our 20-inch bit can drill down about 25 feet per hour and all of our drill bits are built by Ingersoll-Rand.
Chesapeake Energy and Cabot Oil & Gas each attended the expo with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles, a motorcycle and a 1955 Chevrolet, respectively.
The motorcycle, called the "CNG Chopper" was built for Chesapeake's CEO Aubrey McClendon and was featured on Discovery Channel's and TLC's "American Chopper."
"It was featured on the June, 2009 season finale after Chesapeake came to Orange County Choppers, which is the shop featured in the show, with the idea for it," Cory Nolan of Chesapeake Energy said. "There's really not too much different about it than any other chopper. It features a one and a half gallon tank and can go 50 to 75 miles, depending on different variations."
The 1955 Chevrolet, which was on display at Cabot's booth, was restored and converted to dual fuel, which means it can run on both gasoline and CNG, by Dimock resident Mike Faillace.
"I've always wanted to make something that used CNG," he said. "I wanted to see us use homegrown energy and I've always been open to trying crazy things, so I decided to do this."
The car features an 11 gallon tank that is stored in the trunk of the car and the conversion cost about $1,800.
"It was a relatively easy installation," he said. "While the car itself took me an entire winter to restore, installing the CNG kit took only a weekend.
"There some differences in the usage of CNG and gasoline," Faillace continued. "The performance and sound of the car is virtually the same, but there are pros and cons for everything. The tanks take up most of the trunk space and I have about 15 miles per gallon running on CNG as opposed to 20 miles per gallon with gasoline. However, I only pay about $1.30 per gallon of CNG, so the price definitely makes up for the lost fuel efficiency."
Also at the expo was the Mobile Energy Education Training Unit, also known as the MEET U van.
The MEET U van was created by the Drake Well Museum in Titusville, the location of the first oil well that was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859, according to a museum representative at the expo.
"It can teach people about all energies," he said. "Today, it is focused on everything about drilling for natural gas."
Inside the van, various information and videos were displayed on the walls, from the history of the first oil well by Edwin Drake in 1859 to many kinds of information about today's natural gas industry.
The expo also featured seminars by Mansfield University's Lindsey Sikorski about the Marcellus Institute, which features academic programs, workforce training and more related to teaching students about the gas industry, Chesapeake's Mike Narcavage, who spoke about the increasing efforts and opportunities of CNG as a fuel for vehicles, and Moxie Energy Vice President Kent Morton, whose company plans on beginning construction of a natural gas power plant in Asylum Township in the first quarter of 2013.
Free food and refreshments were given out by the booths of the Dandy Mini-Marts, and door prize raffles were announced throughout the day, which included prizes varying from a canoe or bike trip to Apple Ipads and Ipods.
Johnny Williams can be reached at (570) 265-1639; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.