Event offers behind-the-scenes look at drill site

Approximately 300 people, including the general public, business owners and industry representatives, had the opportunity to catch a behind-the-scenes look at an active Marcellus Shale drilling rig as part of the EOG: B2B Network Day held Friday afternoon.EOG Resources volunteered one of their well pad sites, located inside S.B. Elliott State Park in Clearfield County, during the event hosted by the DuBois Chamber Energy Committee and the Clearfield County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC)."As a committee we came up with a list of deliverables to help assist in the industry, and one of them was to hold a networking event for local businesses to have some type of impact locally to create jobs and help businesses expand and grow, so that's where we got this idea," said Jamie Straub, CEO of CCEDC.According to Straub, 250 tickets, at a cost of $20 each, were sold out within four days. The remaining individuals included media and invited guests.The Business to Business event, referred to as "Picnic on the Well Pad," ran from noon to 3 p.m. and began with a catered cookout. During the picnic several, speakers briefly addressed the crowd, including Governor Corbett's Energy Executive Patrick Henderson, State Representative Matt Gabler (R/Elk-Clearfield) and David Callahan of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.Henderson relayed that the governor understands how important this resource is for so many reasons, saying that the industry would create many jobs and provide an affordable and reliable source of energy for businesses, industries and homes."We finally have a chance to secure energy independence for the Commonwealth and for our nation so we don't keep sending dollars to places that don't like us very much and keep those dollars right here in our communities," Henderson said.Callahan noted that the Marcellus Shale has the opportunity to be the number-one largest-producing gas field by 2020. At that time, according to Henderson, it could equal 25 percent of all gas production in the U.S. Gabler said the invitation to view the well site showed that the drilling industry was willing to be up-front with the public about its activities."This event shows a commitment to transparency and openness by the industry, and I think that's important," Gabler said. "Certainly as an elected official in Harrisburg, I am to make sure to ensure everything is done responsibility and I'm seeing there is a commitment across the state to doing this."Following the speakers, attendees were then bussed from the picnic site to the well pad. Once onsite, they had a chance to view the various aspects of a drilling operation during group tours. The well pad was not in use during the tours, having completed drilling just a few days prior.EOG Vice President and General Manager Gary Smith and Drilling Manager Jim Tilley were on hand to answer any questions about the drilling operation.Protesters from a number of environmental and other concerned groups voiced their dissent of Marcellus Shale drilling by holding a peaceful protest throughout the event, with as many as 50 people positioned at the entrance of the state park. They also found their way to the picnic site, where they chanted various slogans during the speakers' presentations and held various signs.