HUGHESVILLE - Offering diverse services, businesses attending the Central Susquehanna Oil & Gas Expo on Saturday were bonded by their curiosity in natural gas exploration.
Expo committee Chairman Matt Henderson said 130 businesses registered. Representatives of these companies were observed behind tables at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds, talking with an estimated 1,000-plus visitors.
"The goal of this expo is to help facilitate beneficial relationships between local businesses and the oil and gas industry, to provide local employment opportunities and to realize the economic benefit within the local market," said Henderson, who is also a member of the Lock Haven University Small Business Development Center.
At left, Jamie Hosterman and Allen McKinley, both of Keystone Communications, talk Saturday to a couple from the Lawrenceville area, Cliff and Jackie Root. They were visiting an expo held at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds featuring the natural gas industry.
Kellee Kissinger, rehabilitation and therapy specialist at Twin Hills Health Center in Muncy, said someone has to provide physical therapy and general medical needs to the laborers toiling in the wellfields.
"With gas and oil bringing all this business, we offer occupational medicine for work-related injuries that are going to probably happen," she said of the multi-disciplinary health center.
Kissinger said a few natural gas companies coming to the area are already using Twin Hills for employment drug screening services and physicals.
A Montoursville businesswoman was at the expo looking for new business leads, especially companies who need products to give away at other expos they attend.
Barbara Watson, co-owner of Teamwork Graphics, said it's important to find new companies wanting to place orders to have their company logos affixed to hats, shirts and coffee mugs.
"With the economy the way it is, it's really hard to count on the companies who used to give us business," Watson said. "We're looking for new businesses."
One natural gas industry customer purchased a couple days ago over one-quarter million dollars of hose supplies from a South Williamsport company.
The purchase, according to Hose Line Industrial President Randy Pfirman, is one example of how his business is profiting from the gas boom.
Pfirman said he plans to expand his business storage buildings and hire more employees.
Being able to provide the John Deere name brand has helped Tim Fink of Five Star Equipment on Lycoming Creek Road.
"The natural gas industry has really increased," Fink said at the expo. "Overall, it's a large percentage of our business."
Red Dog Mobile Storage of Muncy Vice President Jason Philbin said he developed about a dozen business leads to merchandise his storage sheds to companies who may need them to house pipes or natural gas construction equipment.
"That's pretty good for a five-hour event," Philbin said of the contacts he made Saturday.
Considering the expo's theme, virtually all of the businesses can relate to the Marcellus Shale Committee which was represented by spokeswoman Danielle Boston.
Boston described a compromise of resources used in Marcellus Shale fracturing techniques.
She said using high-pressure water to break apart the shale that encases natural gas buried over 6,000 feet below has been occurring across the country for about 60 years.
New technology has allowed horizontal wells to be built, which Boston said impacts less land surface area when only one pad needs to be built for the drill that bends horizontally when it can hydrofracture a shale layer.
Natural resource use has increased with using the hydrofracturing process, as Boston said it taps into area water supplies.
Saturday's event was the first of its kind in the area, according to expo committee member Mary B. Wolf.
Wolf, former Williamsport mayor, who also attended as an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. public affairs and government relations consultant, believes the expo's timing was ideal.
"Because of the activity level in Marcellus Shale, there's a number of companies looking at northcentral Pennsylvania," she said.
Anadarko, according to Wolf, has three Clinton County wells. She said the company is preparing to drill its first Lycoming County well in the Larry's Creek area.
Industry professionals have good reason to avoid compromising the area's ecology, according to Wolf.
"It's our home; you don't ruin your home," she said. "The natural gas industry and the people associated with it are very concerned about doing business the right way, which is following environmental guidelines and protecting the environment."
Offering real estate to the industry involves more than selling drilling plots.
Fish Real Estate Agent Gayle Whitesell said her company plans to offer apartments and houses for workers moving here to work.
Pipeline and other supplies need to be stored before they're taken to the drilling fields, which is why Fish Realtor Mike Richardson said commercial plots are being offered.
Many of the workers needed already live here, according to Halliburton district manager Perry Harris.
He said construction will soon begin on a 24-acre operations center between Muncy and Montgomery.
"When the facility is complete, it will include bulk facilities for cementing, drive-through wash bays, parking for trucks and equipment, a maintenance facility, warehouse and offices," Harris said. "We're expecting to create approximately 300 jobs in the area over the next three years, and we expect the local workforce to provide 70 to 80 percent of those jobs."
Statewide impacts of Marcellus Shale were estimated by Penn State Cooperative Extension Educator Thomas Murphy.
Over the shale's lifetime, he said it will create a yield of $1 trillion.
Businesses are expected to invest $50 billion in infrastructure, according to Murphy.
Creating new economic development must be accomplished wisely, as Murphy said local officials will know what's best for their area.
"It's important for local decision makers to create as much of a win-win situation as possible," he said.