Hart Energy's DUG East Grows Once Again at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center

November 15, 2012

Houston-based Hart Energy’s DUG East trade show and conference for the unconventional resources industry has grown in leaps and bounds, each year steadily drawing more attendees and exhibitors to an ever-expanding showfloor.

Held Nov. 13-15 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, the event attracted approximately 3,200 attendees and 315 exhibitors to a 45,800 net square foot showfloor, compared with just 25 exhibitors and 649 attendees to a 37,200 net sq. ft. showfloor when it was launched just four years ago.

DUG East, one of five DUG-branded events owned and produced by Hart Energy in the U.S. and Canada, focuses on the Utica and Marcellus shale formations that are located primarily in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.

The boom in the unconventional resources industry in recent years, which has resulted in all of the DUG shows that focus on other shale reserve areas also growing rapidly, is a result of technology evolving to the point where the natural resources now can be accessed through horizontal drilling, according to Barry Haest, Hart Energy’s director of events.

“They are just in the beginning of the big boom in the U.S.,” Haest said.

Buzz on the showfloor and at the conference centered on the 2012 World Energy Outlook report that was released Nov. 12 by the International Energy Agency that predicted “the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90 percent of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia by 2035.”

The US is tipped as being “at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world,” the report stated.

Being at the forefront of this trend, the first DUG (developing unconventional gas) show – DUG The Original - was launched seven years ago and now is held annually in Fort Worth, Texas.

Hart Energy has expanded during the years to include not only upstream, midstream and downstream events, but also the company has magazines, Web sites, mapping services, newsletters, research and data serving the industry.

“We’re of the industry, not just reporting on the industry,” Haest said. “We’re in a very fortunate position because we have the knowledge and expertise within our group.”

That expertise was apparent by the high-quality conference content and speakers at the DUG East event, which was cited by attendees and exhibitors alike as a key reason for the show’s success.

Exhibitor Jeremy Gabriel, vice president of Villanova, Penn.-based American Projects, said it was his company’s second year in a row at the DUG East event.

“It’s the only show we decided to go back to,” he added. “The quality of the attendees is really high that Hart attracts with this event and speakers.”

Hydraulic fracturing, the process in which natural gas is extracted, requires large quantities of sand and that has created a major uptick in business for railroad companies that transport it to drilling sites.

Exhibitor Jim Conway of Norfolk Southern railroad, which was on the showfloor for second year as well, said they have seen a “big boon” moving freight for the oil and gas industry.

“Four years ago, we were moving 350 cars of fracking sand, and now we are moving 50,000 cars,” he added. “We see another 20-30 years of business. It’s a big emerging market.”

Attendee Rod Osborne, who worked in research and development for Batelle, said he was at the show to network, as well as see new technologies.

“I am here to be presented with thoughts from other companies,” he added.

Joe O’Malley, an attendee from Detroit, said, “I am looking for general info from the showfloor and conference sessions.”

The conference sessions provided a plethora of information, with 58 speakers focusing on topics ranging from the opening keynote given by Ed Morse, managing director and global head of commodities research for Citigroup Global Markets, talking about how North America could become the new Middle East in gas and oil production to Tom Petrie, chairman of Strategic Energy Advisors, discussing the challenges the industry faces because of government restrictions on hydraulic fracturing.

The luncheon keynote was a big draw as well, with Karl Rove, the former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to President George W. Bush, speaking to 2,000 attendees about why Gov. Mitt Romney lost the presidential election to President Barack Obama.

“In case you missed it, President Obama won, despite my best efforts … they took Ohio,” Rove said.

He added that the Romney campaign was in the lead going into the last week before Election Day, but then the “October Surprise”, or Hurricane Sandy, struck the U.S.

“It gave President Obama a moment to look presidential, and by standing with Chris Christie, he also looked bipartisan,” Rove said.

On Election Day, there were 7.2 million fewer whites that came to the polls, he added, compared with 2008. “A lot of people in swing counties didn’t bother to show up …,” Rove said. “It didn’t need to be this way. This election could have been a blowout.”

Rove is one of several high-profile speakers who have been booked at the DUG events, including former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The speakers and content draw C-level executives, which is a win-win for exhibitors as well.

“They are exposed to key decision-makers, instead of dealing with tire-kickers,” Haest said. “The movers and shakers are here. These are the key players in the (industry).”

Next year, DUG will expand even more, adding another conference stateside and launching an international event Aug. 27-29 in Brisbane, Australia.

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