ABCD, chamber host gas seminar

Opportunities exist for area businesses to get a piece of the pie in the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania.

“We are trying to educate and inform local companies so they are aware of the activities that are around and what they can do to become part of the play,” said Martin J. Marasco, president and CEO of Altoona-Blair County Development Corp. Tuesday at a natural gas business development seminar at the Blair County Convention Center.

ABCD and the Blair County Chamber partnered on the event designed to assist companies looking to benefit from opportunities available through Marcellus Shale.

“We need to look at what we can do as a region to continue to inform our businesses and companies about the substantial economic opportunities that will be around for a number of years,” Marasco said.

The Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania is estimated to hold between 300 trillion and 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, said Matt Henderson, shale gas asset manager for the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.

Henderson said Marcellus Shale accounts for about one-fourth of the nation’s gas on a daily basis, but there are other shale deposits also being explored.

Jim Ladlee, associate director of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, agreed, noting there are exploratory activities under way in Pennsylvania in five different shale formations.

He said most of the drilling in Pennsylvania is in Lycoming, Bradford, Susquehanna and Tioga counties in the northern tier and Washington and Greene counties in the southwestern corner of the state, Henderson said.

“Seventy-three percent of drilling since 2008 has occurred in those six counties,” Ladlee said.

As for jobs, Ladlee said the shale industry has led to the creation of 19,000 core jobs and 13,700 ancillary jobs in the state since 2009.

Chevron Corp., which in 2011 purchased 228,000 acres from Chief Oil & Gas LLC and Tug Hill Inc., including wells in Blair, Bedford and Cambria counties, is looking for local businesses to become part of their supply chain, said Drew Cowley, procurement operations manager.

“This area is new to us. We don’t have a lot of business partners in this area and we need some. We want to find a way you can help us and we can help you and grow your business,” Cowley said. “We are looking for companies that provide high quality goods and services.”

Numerous opportunities exist in the predrilling and drilling and completion phases, Ladlee said.

For example, predrilling opportunities include companies who make portable toilets for job sites, pad liners and water tanks. In the drilling and completion phases, opportunities exist for pipefitters, pipe manufacturers, financial services, hotels, restaurants, bankers, real estate people, safety equipment manufacturers and more, Ladlee said.

Companies need to be patient but persistent in order to become suppliers for the shale gas industry, he said.