Chamber cancels shale expo

SALEM – The fourth annual Youngstown Shale Expo has been canceled due to the continued southern movement in shale drilling and the departure of companies from the Mahoning Valley.

The decision was made last week. The event – called YOUNG 2014 – was scheduled for Sept. 11 at the Covelli Centre. The expo drew more than 1,000 people each of its first three years. But the Youngstown Regional Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event, said participation was diminishing with gas and oil due to companies moving from the Youngstown-Warren area.

“Canceling an event of this magnitude was certainly not a decision that we made quickly or easily,” said Kim Calvert, vice president of Marketing & Business Services.

The event, also called a Utica and Natural Gas Conference, drew about 1,000 people with about 100 vendors setting up booths to display their products and services for the one-day event.

Shale drilling has been moving south into Belmont and Monroe counties and eastward into West Virginia, and earlier this year, BP closed up its Mahoning Valley operations. Halcon Resources pulled back after obtaining discouraging results from a couple of wells. It suspended oil and gas drilling operations in the Utica shale in March. In April the joint-venture pipeline partners in the Bluegrass Pipeline said they were ceasing investment in the 1,100-mile line from Pennsylvania to the Gulf of Mexico.

BP, which opened its Mahoning County office two years ago, said it is packing up and selling its land. Halcon holds leases on about 143,000 acres in Pennsylvania and Ohio. BP has 84,000 acres in Ohio.

BP planned to take a $521 million write-off in the 1st quarter after deciding not to proceed with development plans in the Utica shale as a consequence of appraisal results, while planning to overhaul its poorly performing shale assets.

Also, in March Consol Energy, with an office in Leetonia for over a year, moved personnel from that facility to Canonsburg, Pa., as Columbiana County began to define itself as the northernmost edge in the Utica shale play.

At the close of the week of Aug. 16, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued 19 new horizontal drilling permits in three counties, with eight in Harrison County, seven in Belmont and four in Carroll County.

American Energy Utica had all the permits in Harrison County and two in Belmont County while Hess Ohio Developments had the other five in Harrison County and Chesapeake Exploration received the four permits in Carroll County.

The total number of horizontal permits issued in the state was at 1,446 with 1,025 wells drilled and 547 wells producing in the Utica/Point Pleasant area. There were 46 drilling rigs running in the play.