NORTH JACKSON - Using an analogy from the sports world, Tim Harrington, the regional president for BP North America Gas, explained Friday the company's presence in the Mahoning Valley and where it stands on the development of oil and natural gas.
''We're kind of on the second hole of an 18-hole kind of round,'' Harrington said. ''So we've secured the lease hole, so over the next two years we need to appraise it, so we don't understand exactly what we have yet, so we need to understand the quality of the rock.''
BP will in the near future begin drilling wells to understand the ''producibility'' and get a better look of the ''resource base,'' Harrington said.
''We're a long way from that, but we're pleased on what we have now,'' Harrington said. ''The prospectivity looks good, but it's too early to actually call what a development would look like.''
BP is not producing in either Trumbull or Mahoning counties now, but the company has leased the mineral rights for thousands of acres in Trumbull County and has plans to begin drilling those experimental wells as soon as April.
The company also has numerous mineral right leases in Mahoning County, too, according to the county recorder's office.
Tim Harrington, regional president for BP North America Gas, center, answers questions Friday at the company’s North Jackson facility. With him are, U.S. Rep Timothy J. Ryan, D-Niles, left, and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, right. Photo by Ron Selak Jr.
Harrington met with the media Friday at BP's facility in North Jackson after a tour of the building inside the Youngstown Commerce Park and a meeting between BP officials and U.S. Reps. Timothy J. Ryan and Bill Johnson.
''We just want to make sure we're engaged, whether it's from a workforce development perspective, whether it's for exporting, whether it's for anything that could potentially be helpful and make sure we're all on the same page,'' Ryan, D-Niles, said after the meeting.
The developing industry has the chance to bring the Valley and Appalachia Ohio, a large part of which is represented by Johnson, into a ''period of prosperity,'' not seen since the steel mill generation.
''BP is just one of many companies, but they have a formula that appears to be working,'' said Johnson, R-Marietta. ''This is an evolving strategy and plan with a lot of money being committed already, and I think we're on the right track to put Marcellus and Utica shale and resources we have here in Ohio to work for Ohioans.''
The visit came on the heels of the request Ryan, Johnson and more than 100 other lawmakers made to Energy Secretary Steven Chu to expand domestic exploration of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and urge the administration to approve LNG export permits to non-Free Trade Agreement countries.
Opening the ''wealth'' of this resource to the world market, Johnson said, would create and support jobs in Ohio as well as ensure the continued production of natural gas. It's a market the U.S. doesn't have a foot in now, Johnson said.
Ryan said, ''we can either import oil or we can export natural gas and I think most people would say, 'let's export it and create the jobs here,''' Ryan said.