Chesapeake plans long commitment to Valley, official says

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Ryan Dean, senior manager for corporate development of Chesapeake Energy, discusses the company’s commitment to the Mahoning Valley at the annual meeting of the United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley.

By Burton Speakman


Chesapeake Energy plans to continue to invest significantly in the Mahoning Valley for decades to come, a company official said Thursday night.

Ryan Dean, senior manager of corporate development for Chesapeake, was featured speaker at the 2011 annual meeting of United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

Part of the reason the United Way wanted Dean to speak is Chesapeake’s commitment to the United Way in other areas, said Bob Hannon, president of the local United Way. Chesapeake has a $1 million endowment in Fort Worth, Texas, with the United Way.

“I think this company will have a big impact in the Valley,” he said.

Dean focused much of his speech on explaining why Chesapeake has chosen to become active in the Mahoning Valley.

“Youngstown is uniquely situated between the Marcellus and Utica shales,” he said at the Lake Club event. “Both shales will create opportunities.”

Chesapeake is the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas, generating 9 percent of the gas produced domestically, Dean said. The company is moving away some from dry natural gas because of the current low price for the product. The Utica Shale is expected to have more fluid-based natural gas.

The company remains in the early stages of development in the Utica Shale. Chesapeake has drilled 59 wells in Ohio, and nine of those are producing, he said. The company has 10 drilling operations in the area now, but that number is expected to be about 13 by the end of the year and should reach 22 by the end of 2013.

“We’re still finding our way along for where we’re going to find the best results,” Dean said.

Chesapeake has announced plans to invest $900 million in a facility in Columbiana County to treat the fluid gas that comes form the wells, he said. Throughout Ohio the company has invested $2 billion in acquiring leases.

“Right now we’re only 18 months into what is a very long-term process,” he said.

These wells are expected to produce for the next 20 to 50 years, Dean said.

Dean also spoke about jobs his company and others in the oil and gas industry would help to create.

About 410 people are needed to turn one well into a producing site, Dean said. Those jobs range from engineers, truck drivers, rig hands and other positions.

“Jobs are available for everyone in a drilling operation,” he said. “It’s not just petroleum engineers.”

Much of the attention paid toward drilling in the shale has centered on the fracking process, Dean said.

Fracking requires only about 10 days out of about nine months it takes to put a well into production, he said.

Things are starting to turn around for the Mahoning Valley, said Ed Muransky, owner of The Lake Club.

“It’s nice to see after all these years of people moving out, that new people are starting to find our Valley,” he said.

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