YOUNGSTOWN A business-to-business oil and gas drilling conference and expo is moving further downstream in its third year at Youngstown's Covelli Centre, conference planners said.
"Production, Processing, Prosperity" will be the theme of the event that kicks off the Youngstown, Ohio, Utica Natural Gas, or Y.O.U.N.G., conference Wednesday night with a welcome "Casino Night," but officially opens 9 a.m. Thursday at the Covelli Centre.
"Now that all these facilities are up and running, what does that mean for our local economy and getting the product to market?" said Eric Planey, Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber vice president of international business attraction, who is involved in the event's planning. "It's a little bit more midstream, and beginning to talk about downstream."
Tribune Chronicle file photo
People mill about the Covelli Centre during the 2012 Y.O.U.N.G. conference. The oil and gas drilling expo returns to the Youngstown center this week.
He was referring to common natural gas industry terms. "Upstream," generally means the extraction process; "midstream," represents processing and transportation; and "downstream," means refining, marketing and distribution of the products.
About 100 vendors and exhibitors representing varying locations in the natural gas stream are signed up for the third annual event intended to give them the chance to explore opportunities to develop right along with the Utica Shale Play. More than a 1,000 attendees are expected to visit the show that opens 9 a.m. Thursday. Cost to attend is $75.
In addition to exhibits, industry speakers planned for the day include experts in the energy, chemicals and polymers businesses; IGS Energy, the developer of a natural gas filling station for Girard; along with officials from Vallourec star, CONSOL, Valerus and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.
While the conference's official focus hasn't turned completely to "downstream" development, attendees shouldn't be surprised if that is the buzz on the conference floor.
That's because one part of the downstream processing - converting natural gas liquids into more profitable chemicals for use in the manufacture of various polymers, plastics, antifreeze and other products - will be the next area of growth in the industry.
While there is still no official confirmation that a proposed Shell Oil Co. petrochemical complex will be built on an industrial site just north of Pittsburgh, the company's call last month for ethane suppliers has generated excitement that the multi-billion dollar plant could be one step closer to reality.
"Even though it's in Pa., if it develops, it's going to have massive effects in Ohio," Planey said, especially for Akron, known as the "polymer capital of the world." If it becomes reality, Akron's research teams would be linked geographically to the proposed Shell ethane cracker plant via the Mahoning Valley.
Akron-based companies like Goodyear and the University of Akron have focused on the polymer industry, researching new applications and innovations.
"When you look at a city like Akron, when you get within 80 to 90 miles of a cracker plant, it could be huge."
Another downstream topic that will be touched on at this week's conference will include compressed natural gas.
"This year, our Valley's companies have more experience selling to the industry and being qualified to sell. So we want to accelerate the business-to-business engagement further," Planey said.
The event wraps up with a morning lecture session Friday at the Holiday Inn Boardman.
Three experts in the logistics and midstream arena of the oil and gas industry will be featured, Anthony Paglia, vice president of government and media affairs for the Regional Chamber, said.
Speakers will include Mark Butta, director of commercial operations, Crosstex Energy; Scott Hallam, manager, development & operations, Access Midstream; and Jim Privett, director of operations and engineering, NiSource Midstream.
The event will be moderated by NEOTEC and is in conjunction with the Ohio-PA chapter of the Gas Processors Association.
The Friday wrap-up session will run from 9 a.m. to about noon.
Attendees must register for Thursday's main event at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown in order to attend Friday's session.