New store opens to meet demands of natural gas industry

This article is from the The Express and covers a new business in Avis, PA that will cater to the gas drilling industries needs for equipment and supplies.

New store opens to meet demands of natural gas industry

By SCOTT JOHNSON – sjohnson@lockhaven.com

Nov. 5th 2009

AVIS – Central Pennsylvania – and most of the state has only seen the tip of the iceburg concerning the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling industry.

That’s what officials in the industry said Wednesday as they got a look at a new store that will supply equipment and supplies to companies preparing drilling sites for operation.

Bell Supply Co., located at the former Avis Chevrolet facility, off the Avis exit of Route 220, opened for business on Monday with four full-time employees, including two from this region, and hopes to at least double that workforce in the near future.

“We just wanted to invite everybody in to see our facility and meet us and start building some good relationships,” said Store Manager Keith Norwood, who was brought in from Colorado.

Most of the equipment, he said, will be sold to the oil companies’ “roustabout crews” that ready drilling sites for operation.

Norwood, who has 25 years of experience in the industry, said he believes “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to the area’s natural gas drilling potential, and associated jobs and money.

“It looks like it’s going to be incredibly busy for up to the next 20 years,” he said. “The amount of natural gas that they project that’s underneath the Marcellus Shale is astronomical and the exploration and recovery of that gas is going to take some time. It could be a very lucrative industry for many years to come… With that comes people, money and jobs.”

There have been some concerns expressed by local officials and residents over the impact the industry may have on the area’s pristine environment, but Norwood noted natural gas drillers have improved their environmental stewardship and safety practices significantly over the years.

“It is now one of the top industries in America to work in,” he said.

Bell Supply Co.’s Avis facility, currently under lease from MacIntyre Chevrolet, is the second such store in the region, with National Oilwell Varco opening up a similar shop recently in Mountoursville.

This is the second such store in the state for Bell Supply. The other store, in Washington, Pa., now employs 10. The company has 17 stores nationwide, with the other establishments in Texas, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The firm plans to double its number of stores in the next few years.

“Bell Supply is very proactive and looking to grow and looking to be a major player in any area where the oil field is active,” Norwood said.

Michael Robinett, field sales representative for Bell Supply, said he also believes the natural gas industry is waiting to explode in this region, but noted it will be a “positive growth” with the industry taking more precautions concerning environment and safety.

“It means jobs, people and an influx of money,” said Robinett, from Ft. Worth, Texas.

While many of the initial employees surrounding the industry are being brought in from other states, Robinett said he believes future job openings will be filled by mostly local residents.

The meet-and-greet session was organized by the Maguire family, which owns many acres of land in the county, most of which is prime territory for natural gas exploration.

While he wouldn’t specify how many acres of land his family owns, Bob Maguire noted the family recently paid $84,000 in property taxes.

“We have some nice, well-placed properties, but I’m helping everyone,” said Maguire, a member of the newly-formed county Natural Gas Task Force. “I’m here to educate the general public and facilitate the industry.”

Jim Maguire, a Wayne Township supervisor and also a member of the task force, said he believes the Marcellus Shale industry is waiting to explode in Clinton County.

“Locally, on a scale of one to 10, we haven’t hit one yet. It’s going to get big,” Maguire said. “There is a lot of stuff in the natural gas industry that is going on that the public is not aware of.”

Bob said he hopes the county’s residents take “big advantage” of the likely economic activity with the natural gas industry.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to have a long-term industry that provides good-paying jobs that will affect the housing industry, the eateries and everything in the industrial and commercial level,” he said. “We know that we now have 100 years of supply and this is the single-largest unconventional play in the country.”

He noted the industry has already moved in with three natural gas companies storing needed supplies at the former Buffalo Inn property near Woolrich.

Further, Bob said he believes there are seven local facilities that could provide warehousing space for the natural gas industry.

 

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