Shale expo rivals large events

By Jamison Cocklin


This year’s shale expo at the Covelli Centre was a must-attend event, rivaling other major conferences across the country such as those in Houston and Denver, according to many of those who attended Thursday.

The 2012 Youngstown, Ohio, Utica and Natural Gas Conference and Expo showed just what it takes to get natural gas out of the ground, to refineries and to markets nationwide. It also demonstrated the excitement over Northeast Ohio and its place in the Utica shale play.

“This conference is a step above where it was last year,” said Xavier Tison, a regional manager with the fracking services company FMC Technologies. “In order for us to get in on the Utica shale play, we have to come to Ohio. It’s necessary.”

FMC, which offers everything from well-head services to fluid control during the drilling process, was one of 115 vendors and exhibitors at the expo sponsored by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.

In all, 1,500 participants paid a registration fee of $100 to attend the event that started Wednesday with a networking event. It will conclude today at the Holiday Inn in Boardman, where 450 registrants are expected to attend seminars there.

“Just like everyone else, we’re trying to find work,” said Daryl Moss, president of Front Street Trucking in Niles, a heavy-freight and transport company. “We’re looking to get in on all this. For so long, our business has transported automotive parts and coils, and now we want in on the piping that’s required for this drilling.”

Like the majority of those interviewed, Moss said it was his first time visiting the expo. Last year was the conference’s first, and it was merely a “primer on the natural-gas process and an introduction to how the industry works,” said Tony Paglia, chamber spokesman.

But this year was about attracting more vendors from both the region and the country with a focus on bringing local and global businesses together to make progress in further establishing places such as Youngstown as a hub for natural-gas activity.

“This year, we’re really taking the steps to make a name for ourselves, and we’ve attracted a lot more people from out of town,” Paglia added.

Greg Stanic, with Globex Engineering and Consulting, headquartered in Chicago and with offices in Canada, Serbia and Texas, said his company already is providing a host of engineering services in and around Youngstown.

Globex has offices in Canfield, and Stanic said the work being conducted in the region is just as relevant as in other states such as Pennsylvania and Texas, where drilling has long been prevalent.

For Minnesota Limited LLC, an Indianapolis-based company that specializes in building and maintaining pipelines, the natural-gas production occurring here means the company will need a booth at the event for years to come.

“By all means, we expect this to just get bigger here,” said Larry Woods, a business and development manager from Minnesota limited.

The center’s floor was lined with vendors representing equipment-supply companies, oil and gas producers, construction outfits, investment firms and even office-equipment suppliers, to name a few.

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