By CASEY JUNKINS
PITTSBURGH - Just a few days after watching Republican President-elect Donald Trump take the oath of office, oil and natural gas industry leaders will convene for the 2017 Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference to discuss potential for business growth.
Recently, staff members at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted preliminary approval for construction of the Nexus Pipeline to transport natural gas from the region. However, FERC officials continue reviewing plans for the Rover Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Mountaineer XPress and the Leach XPress pipelines, which officials believe would provide producers greater access to markets in which they can sell their natural gas at higher price points.
These and other matters will be on the minds of those attending the conference, set for Jan. 24-26 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.
"Attention is drastically shifting to the Marcellus and Utica, as producers make large investments in these plays, balance a growing demand, and look for what to do next at the 2017 Marcellus-Utica Midstream conference and exhibition," said Paul Hart, editor-in-chief of the Midstream Business magazine. "The brain power and topics of focus have already made the 2017 conference one of the best in the past eight years."
Scheduled speakers include David Fitch, senior vice president with MarkWest Energy Partners; Timothy Aydt, general manager at Marathon Petroleum Corp.; Alan Armstrong, president and CEO of Williams Energy; Marc A. Halbritter, senior vice president of business development at Blue Racer Midstream; and Steven M. Woodward, senior vice president of Antero Resources Corp.
As the Utica Shale's daily production grows to over 8.5 billion cubic feet and more than 120,000 barrels of liquids, many midstream operators are upgrading technologies and systems to stay ahead of demand. Next door, daily output from the Marcellus has swelled to 12 billion cubic feet and nearly 70,000 barrels of liquids.
With growing demand in the region and new market potentials, hundreds of executives and exhibitors are joining this year's conference to learn what's working now for midstream operators and upstream producers in the Appalachian basin.
One of those producers, EQT Corp., plans to use $1.5 billion to drill 119 Marcellus wells with an average lateral length of 7,000 feet - along with seven Utica wells with an average lateral length of 6,800 feet - in 2017.
Another producer, global oil and natural gas giant Chevron, will invest $19.8 billion for drilling and fracking in 2017. The company operates several wells in Marshall County.
"Our spending for 2017 targets shorter-cycle time, high-return investments and completing major projects under construction. In fact, over 70 percent of our planned upstream investment program is expected to generate production within two years," Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson said.