YOUNGSTOWN - What was the premier Utica Shale conference and trade show for the last three years will not go forward as planned this year.
Event coordinator, the Youngstown-Warren Reg-ional Chamber, announced Monday the fourth annual Youngstown, Ohio, Utica & Natural Gas, or Y.O.U.N.G., Conference and Trade Show has been canceled.
Declining participation, triggered largely by a redirection of the prime geographical areas of exploration, is the reason cited for the cancellation of the large trade show and job fair events that were scheduled for Sept. 11.
In past years the business-to-business trade show at Youngstown's Covelli Centre had brought in more than 1,000 attendees and more than 100 vendors and exhibitors representing varying locations in the natural gas stream.
As in past years, industry exhibits and speakers had been planned for this year's event.
Chamber officials said, however, other related events scheduled for Sept. 10, including the Y.O.U.N.G. Golf Outing and Casino Night event, will go on as planned.
"Canceling an event of this magnitude was certainly not a decision that we made quickly or easily," said Kim Calvert, vice president of Marketing & Business Services. "After three big and successful years, we were seeing a decline in participation at this year's show, primarily due to the changing nature of the shale industry here. Some of the major oil and gas companies have reprioritized their areas of exploration, and there are other industry delays overall.
Petroleum industry giants like BP, Consol and Halcon Resources in recent months pulled their drilling rigs from the Trumbull and Mahoning County areas, after exploration netted poor results in this northernmost part of the shale play. Last month, BP and its engineering partner Brammer Engineering applied for permits to plug four of the wells it had drilled in northern Trumbull County. Ohio Department of Natural Resources records show applications were filed to plug BP's Jewett well in Johnston, Dunbar well in Vernon, Roscoe well in Gustavus and the Morrison well in Mecca. Those wells were drilled and hydraulically fractured, but never put into production.
Halcon wells that already have been drilled and are in production, mostly in the Lordstown area, continue to produce, but Halcon has announced no new plans to drill locally. Consol moved all its rigs to more lucrative parts of the shale play in southeastern Ohio.
Heavy drilling and excellent results have been reported further south in areas of Carroll, Belmont and Guernsey counties.
"We hold our events to the highest standards and did not feel that we could move forward with this particular event if it was going to be anything less than it has been the past three years or not meaningful or valuable to participants and attendees."
The Chamber had expected the Y.O.U.N.G. Conference & Trade Show, initially held in 2011 to educate the public and business about the burgeoning shale industry in the Valley, to have a life cycle of three to four years.
Calvert said the Chamber believes the purpose for the Y.O.U.N.G. event may have run its intended course, and despite recent reports that drilling now is focusing south of the Youngstown-Warren community, the supply chain to the oil and gas industry remains strong in the Valley.
More than 4,000 direct and indirect jobs have stemmed from shale development since 2010, and more than $5 billion in investments, chamber officials said.
Chamber staff has notified all conference and trade show participants, but anyone who registered and has not been contacted should call Jennifer Mascardine at 330-744-2131, Ext. 12.