I guess you could call him the first executive on the ground in Trumbull County for BP shale play.
Curtis Thomas, BP's director of government and public affairs for Ohio, stopped by to meet with the newspaper's editorial board last week. He has transferred here from his position in Louisiana, where he held the title of director for media relations for the Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. You know, public relations for the Gulf oil spill.
He and his family are moving, or are in the process of moving, here. They have rented a house in the neighborhood of Eastwood Mall and have a child signed up for school. They have a house picked out to buy once the house in Louisiana sells.
Texas-based BP America recently purchased the oil and gas rights to 27,000 acres of land in Trumbull County. Thomas said the company currently has rights to about 85,000 acres. In March, the company agreed through the Associated Landowners of the Ohio Valley (ALOV) to lease about 84,000 of acres in the county. Thomas said BP plans to drill in April of next year at one of two locations.
His office is in downtown Warren. When asked what his duties are, he said to ''manage expectations.'' I would say he is capable of that if he can handle the Gulf oil spill.
Thomas stressed the company's commitment to the community. He said he is interested in promoting science and math among students in area schools. A day or so later, he was delivering 600 pounds of processed beef and pork to the local Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Society. The company bought three 4-H livestock auction animals at the Trumbull County Fair, a steer and two hogs.
Currently, two drilling companies have permits to operate in the county. CONSOL Energy subsidiary CNX Gas Company was permitted on April 16 to drill in Vienna. Houston-based Carrizo Oil and Gas was permitted in May to drill in Hartford.
The shale boom is coming. Potential workers are in the process of getting trained. There is a shale seminar planned soon at the Covelli Center in Youngstown, and all the booth space is taken. The developments and opportunities are impressive.
I was impressed with Thomas. He appeared personable, articulate and smart. If he is any indication of what lies ahead for shale gas and oil development in the area, and hydraulic fracturing in general, there should only be good things to come.
Robinson is editor of the Tribune Chronicle.