Marietta College showcases oil, gas industry at exhibition
MARIETTA — The first Marietta College Oil & Gas Technical Exhibition is not likely to be the last.
Organized entirely by students, the day-long industry showcase attracted 49 exhibitors and so many attendees that the reception table exhausted its 400 preprinted name tags and had to print more, Evan Levine said
A senior in the college’s petroleum engineering program, Levine said Friday the idea emerged in the spring and got rolling in mid-September. By the end of October, he said, they had to turn away companies interested in exhibiting because the roster was full.
“The exhibitors are getting the future of the industry looking at them,” he said during a break in the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center. The hall was packed with exhibitors, company representatives, students and interested residents of the community. “And a lot of students are looking for potential employers.”
Chris Lee, an account manager for Baker Hughes, was one of the company representatives staffing the booth for the global oil and gas servicing company.
“We’re just talking to people about what we do,” he said. “We offer a full portfolio from well design to engineering and production equipment, pretty much everything except cementing and fracking.”
The booth got many inquiries from students looking to get into the industry, he said.
At the Trans Canada Pipeline booth, company representative Dave Adler was busy.
“This is a good event for students,” he said. “I’m really impressed.”
Trans Canada specializes in gas and oil transportation and storage, he said.
Marietta College junior Shannon Patberg was roaming the exhibits, talking to company representatives.
“It’s really impressive that all this was organized by students,” said Patberg, a junior from Pittsburgh. “This is one of the largest events I’ve seen here.”
Patberg said she is majoring chemistry, which could have applications in the refining process, but she said she’s not yet committed to going into the industry.
Deep Well Services, a division of Sun Energy based in Pennsylvania, saw a steady stream of people trying out their virtual reality training system. Johnny McAllister, the company’s chief operating officer, said it specializes in completing fracked wells and an effective training system is necessary because the work is dangerous.
“We’re working on live, pressurized wells,” he said.
McAllister is a 1984 graduate of the Marietta College petroleum engineering program.
“It’s one of the top in the country, well-respected,” he said.
Deep Well views the students and others who attended the exhibition as potential customers, he said.
Mohammad Al-Aryan, a petroleum engineering student, said the exhibition was a good complement to his studies.
“Drilling, new technologies, tools for perforation, instruments … there are even internships,” he said.
Andrej Goreta, a recent graduate of the petroleum engineering program, drove from Cleveland to attend the event.
“It’s phenomenal, I’m so happy to see this,” he said. “It’s a networking opportunity, a great way to get your foot in the door.”
Levine, looking at the activity in the center, seemed confident the event would continue into the future.
“The plan was to lay the groundwork to fill this room,” he said. “Within two years we’ll see that.”
Although employment in the industry surges and recedes with the volatility of the industry, it appears to be stable for the time being and possibly, with the announcement of a major agreement between the state of West Virginia and a Chinese investment corporation for gas extraction, to be on the verge of an upswing.
“This is still one of the lowest-cost areas in the world to produce natural gas,” Lee said.