Entrepreneurs making way for Marcellus business
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Nearly 125 business owners and entrepreneurs spent a day at Keystone College Thursday learning about a tremendous business opportunity unfolding in Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.
In a program hosted by the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service and MetroAction of the Small Business Develoipment Center at the University of Scranton, they learned that the Marcellus gas boom is still taking off.
In an afternoon panel, Extension educator Joann Kowalski noted that Cabot had announced it would be putting in 54 wells this year, and in the morning attendees learned that Chesapeake was shooting for 280 in 2011.
“That’s a lot of new business,” Kowalski said.
The program opened with a comment from Janice Lobdell, representing the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association, that is old news: The Marcellus shale formation is estimated to hold in the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.
In 2010, it was 256 billion cubic feet.
A recent report indicated that 1,147 Marcellus Shale gas wells are in operation across Pennsylvania.
Lobdell said the projections translate into about 100,000 jobs and the number is growing.
“As development of marcellus Shale natural gas vontinues to grow in Pennsylvania, so do the business opportunities,” MetroAction’s Deborah Bertha said, and he agency stood poised to provide “the tools and resources they need for long-term success.”
Lobdell provided an overview of the industry, including an explanation of the entire process from start to finish. From seismic testing and leasing of land, to when the gas goes to market all the way to when the rig is gone, the well is closed, and the site is reclaimed.
She acknowledged that the industry is evolving and that there were some early issues involved with methane migration caused by bad concrete or poor casing, but the industry has gone overboard to put out new safeguards.
She said that some media accounts of contamination by the hydrofracturing process were not true.
Mike Narcavage, manager of corporate development for Chesapeake Energy, reinforced a comment his company’s CEO made on the TV program ’60 Minutes’ – that is, “That we’re sitting on the natural gas equivalent of two Saudia Arabias.
He also spoke about how much of Susquehanna, Bradford and Wyoming counties appeared to be on a “sweet spot” for high volume natural gas production.
He said that while Chesapeake would continue to develop well sites, it was also on the cutting edge of new business activity- announcing that two DandyMarts in Bradford County would be servicing compressed natural gas to those vehicles equipped to use it.
He noted that the CNG was about onethird the price of what’s being pad at today’s gas pumps.
An afternoon panel featured Joe Barone of PaGasDirectory.com, Adam Diaz of Diaz Stone and Pallet, Bill Kelly, Taylor Rental; Mark Lewis of Dempsey Uniform, and Donna LaBar, Century 21 Real Estate.
LaBar, a Tunkhannock based realtor, spoke of the initial crimp on rentals for living quarters and how the ‘for sale’ market is picking up once again.
She noted that out-of-region companies have come to her looking for commercial sites to do their business and she now has a commercial brokerage in the Wellsboro area.
Lewis said the uniforms he has supplied to companies in the past has tended to be a sophisticated blend of fiber, and yet cas companies and subcontractors are looking for even more resilient clothing.
He presently services about 700 new uniforms but notes that number could easily be 7,000.
Kelly, said his father looked to expand Taylor Rental, and when the first gas customer walked in their South Montrose store in 2008 they took a chance of supplying equipment rentals, expanded to Tunkhannock and also created a spinoff business- Oilfield Supply that has done quite well.
Diaz said he left Keystone College in 1997 and has had some fortunate breaks along the way.
He has been in the stone hauling business, but recently added about 45 trucks over the past three years and presently hauls waste cuttings to the tune of 1,000-1,200 tons per day to a Canadian Pacific Rail Yard in Kinglsey which then ships the byproduct elsewhere.
Diaz noted there was a lot more opportunity coming down the pipeline. It was a sentiment echoed by Barone who has created a website for people looking for gas drilling jobs all at PaGasDirectory.com