In 1900, there were 8,000 wells within 50 miles of Marietta, producing a million barrels of oil per month. The greater number of these wells were within 25 miles of the city itself. Many of Marietta's historic homes and buildings were constructed from oil profits. Fast forward to 2012 and this region of Ohio may once again see a boom in oil and gas exploration. A few years ago we began hearing about the Marcellus Shale and horizontal drilling. There has been a lot of press coverage of drilling in Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia. Drilling is also occurring in Ohio in counties to our north.
This past year we learned more about the deposits deeper in the earth in the Utica Shale upon which Marietta and Washington County sit. The oil and gas producers are very interested in the Utica Shale potential and most of us have noted the increase in out-of-state license plates. Certainly the hotels are experiencing higher occupancy rates. Two forums for landowners sponsored by Peoples Bank and the Chamber were quite well attended.
While leasing mineral rights is generating additional income for local property owners, there are many other opportunities coming from this shale exploration activity. If the forecasts are accurate, we may be looking at 80 to 100 years of oil and gas production from the Ohio shale deposits.
On Friday, Jan. 27, the Marietta Area Chamber, in partnership with the Ohio Small Business Development Center - Marietta, is hosting "Catching the Wave: Economic Impact & Opportunities - Ohio Shale Development. This free forum is geared to local business owners, managers and entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the possibilities for new business or expansion of current products/services. Some of the panelists are from communities in western Pennsylvania and Carroll County, Ohio, areas already experiencing the economic impact of shale drilling. Other speakers include experts in the oil and gas industry, economic development, workforce development.
Congressman Bill Johnson will provide information on legislative activity concerning shale development. Following lunch, a panel comprised of Bill Polacek, President and CEO of JWF Industries (a welding and fabrication shop in western Pennsylvania), Jack Pounds, Ohio Chemistry Council, Shawn Bennett, Energy In Depth, and Scott Miller, Ohio University, will focus on Opportunities for directly supporting exploration, drilling, production.
A session titled Business and Entrepreneurial opportunities outside of the Industry will feature J. R. Shaw, Executive Director, Washington County, Pa. Tourism Promotion Agency and Amy Rutledge, Executive Director of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. David Mustine of Jobs Ohio, Dr. Bob Chase from Marietta College, and Tom Stewart, Ohio Oil and Gas association will discuss The Bigger Picture: Opportunities and Challenges. Rhonda Reba, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, will deliver a brief overview of shale exploration drilling and production.
Other speakers include Linda Woggon, Ohio Chamber; Rebecca Heimlich, Ohio Energy Resource Alliance; Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews, Washington County Commissioner Steve Weber, and Ohio State Rep. Andy Thompson, 93rd District.
This forum is made possible by support from People Bank, the Ohio Energy Resource Alliance, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, the American Petroleum Institute, and others. It will be held at the Historic Lafayette Hotel, 101 Front St., Marietta 45750. Doors open at 11 a.m. Reservations are required. Please call the Chamber at 740-373-51276 no later than Jan. 19, 2012.
The Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, a private business association with over 580 members, is the leading champion of our community's business future.
Charlotte Keim, CCEO-AP, is president of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, The Riverview Building, 100 Front St., Suite 200, Marietta. Chamber Viewpoint appears every other Monday on Opinion.