The Ohio Shale Energy 2012 conference, “Discovering Supply Chain Opportunities,” hosted nearly 500 leaders in the shale energy industry at the Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center in Cambridge, Ohio on April 11.

Julie Bethlenfalvy
April 20, 2012

Participants received first hand advice from industry experts about the factors driving Ohio’s booming shale energy industry and the necessary steps to get involved. Scott Miller, Director of energy and environmental programs at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs said that such an opportunity is imperative for those interested in the industry. “This conference represents the next step in the maturation of the shale industry in southern and eastern Ohio,” he said. “It’s important that we begin to talk about specific requirements oil and gas companies need their suppliers to meet such as safety, quality, capital needs and workforce training.”

The conference was the second phase of the Voinovich School’s plan to identify and connect active and potential shale gas supply companies throughout southern and eastern Ohio. In 2011, the Voinovich School was awarded a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to focus on supply chain enhancement programs located within rural Ohio. As the companies are identified, they will be entered into a searchable, geo-coded database (displaying an interactive online map) to enhance supply chain competitiveness in Ohio. At a designated exhibit booth, attendees at the conference were able to enter their own business information directly into the database. The project will continue into the months to come, so any interested business is encouraged to take an online survey and register their information into the database at www.ohioshaleenergy.com.

At the conference, expert panelists also discussed the vital elements necessary for local shale supply chain businesses to flourish. It was stressed that companies need to understand the industry and its many requirements, including certifications and licenses. To succeed, businesses must also be proactive and be prepared. The energy industry is volatile, and suppliers need to have the financial stability and flexibility to weather the boom and bust cycle.

Keynote speaker, Michael A. Levett, Senior Director and Vice Chair of the board of directors for CDC Development Solutions, emphasized the significance of building upon current local capacity and innovation to create the knowledge networks and value chain additions that will rapidly increase Ohio business involvement in an Ohio shale gas energy industry. The Ohio Shale Energy supply chain database is a major step in this direction by identifying and connecting Ohio’s supply chain players.

According to John Glazer, director of TechGROWTH Ohio, there is an incredible optimism among conference participants about the size and the value of the economic opportunity in the region. Larry Wickstrom, state geologist and division chief of the Ohio Division of Geological Survey, explained that although the Ohio shale energy industry is still in its infancy, the boom is expected in two to three years.

The conference provided businesses with the opportunity to network, build relationships, and hear expert advice about how to fill the needs of local, national and international shale gas energy markets that are about to surge in Ohio. “I think the folks that attended left with a better sense of what they need to do to get involved with the business,” Miller added.

Ohio Shale Energy 2012 was presented by the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Ohio University, TechGROWTH Ohio, Ohio Shale Coalition, Ohio Energy Resource Alliance, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Zanesville-Muskingum Port Authority, WIRE-Net, Edison Welding Institute, and co-sponsored by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and its Consortium for Energy, Economics and the Environment (CE3).

To sign up on the Ohio Shale Energy Supply Chain database or to obtain more information about Ohio Shale Energy 2012 conference, please visit: www.ohioshaleenergy.com.