Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Good Governance Makes Good Sense: Laying a Strong Foundation for the Future

L to R:  Jim Taylor, Lynn Clarke, Rob McIlroy
Jim Taylor, ABARTA Board Chair and Oil & Gas President and CEO, participated in a panel with two other board members from privately-held companies to address a group of approximately 100 family business owners in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, November 6th.  This was one of nine educational seminars hosted annually by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business (

Because Jim knows first-hand the value of ABARTA’s Board of Directors, he was able to speak from experience about what he perceives is one of our greatest resources.  ABARTA Board Member Lynn Clarke, who is CEO of (, and Rob McIlroy, Board Secretary and Vice President of Robroy Industries, also joined Jim on this panel. 

The role and importance of a board – including why and how to establish one – were among the topics discussed.  Panelists enumerated reasons to have a Board, explained the four types of Boards, detailed what makes an effective Board, and gave the Top 10 Benefits of having a Board.  Jim says that he was about 35 years old when ABARTA was transitioning from the 2nd to the 3rd generation of owners, and that is when they adopted an independent Board of Directors.  Statistics say that only about 12% of 3rd generation family businesses survive, and fewer than that grow and thrive.  ABARTA’s leadership wanted to ensure the company’s success and survival. 

Our independent board, made up of members who have specific industry and functional expertise, provides essential support, encouragement, guidance and helps to make ABARTA a better company.  They ask tough questions and are not afraid to ask about touchy subjects.  They anticipate issues, guide key management, set goals and enforce follow through, act as a sounding board and bring outside perspectives to the table.  This provides for more creative thinking and decision making and ultimately will help our family business leadership achieve its vision.

The ultimate goal is not only survival but success, and ABARTA appreciates the role our independent board plays in that success.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Katie Hanlon Turns Talent into Gift

West Virginia Administrative Assistant Katie Hanlon has many passions and past times, one of which is photography.  She is well known in the Bridgeport area for her talent as a photographer and is often asked to snap just a few pictures of friends’ children for their Christmas card.  For the second year, Katie turned her talent into a gift for a family in need.

Katie’s cousin Tori, who is just a few weeks older than Katie’s daughter Charlie, was born with biliary atresia.  Biliary atresia is a life-threatening condition that affects only 1 in 18,000 infants in which the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not have normal openings.  This summer Tori had to undergo not one but TWO liver transplants!  Her mother had to quit her job to care for Tori, and Katie says the family has “basically been living in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for months.”

Hitting so close to home, Katie imagined what the mounting bills must be like for Tori’s family and decided to do something about it by collecting donations at her annual photo shoot.  Katie set aside time on Saturday, October 26th to photograph friends and  collected $1,810 for her cousin.  She also had an assistant shooting video and sent the video to Tori as an early Christmas present.  What a wonderful use of your talent, Katie!

Tori lives with her parents Andrea and Bill King and older sister Ella in Charleston, WV.  If you would like to read about Tori, follow this Facebook link or copy and paste to your browser:  Contact Katie Hanlon at if you would like to contribute to the Tori King Transplant Fund.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mother/Daughter Share Passion for Rowing

Lynn Biery, Pittsburgh Land Supervisor, and daughter, Elyn, share a passion for rowing.  For the past three years, Lynn has been that “rowing (soccer) mom” helping her daughter, Elyn, rise to Coxswain for her Steel City Rowing team.  (In most boats, the Cox sits facing the rowers in the stern so she/he can steer the boat and coordinate the power and rhythm of the rowers.) Lynn’s passion developed quite by accident but was spawned by early ABARTA health initiatives.  As part of Lynn’s exercise routine, she tried an IndoRowing machine at a local gym and liked it so much that she decided to become a certified instructor.  She quickly fell in love with the motion that eventually developed her power and strength and took her to the water in March 2013.   
Lynn Biery is the 2nd rower from the top, daughter Elyn is at the bottom in purple.
Lynn spends approximately four hours each week rowing, both indoor and out.  After training for only six months, she had the confidence to compete for the first time in the Head of the Ohio in Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River.  One of the largest one-day events in the country, this event attracts competitors of all skill levels.  Lynn’s team placed third, and she received a bronze medal for her efforts in a Masters Mixed 8+ race on Saturday, October 5th.  She worked with seven other rowers in a sweep boat pulling only one oar (see photo), while her daughter, Elyn, sat in front commanding the team to victory.  What surprised Lynn about this victory is that the team had only practiced twice together in the sweep boat.  Typically the rowers practiced in a sculling boat where each rower pulls two oars instead of one.  This team of 4 women and 4 men of varying ages and skill finished the 2.6 mile course in 18:13 and crossed the finish ahead of 5 other boats.  It is never too late to try something new, and we applaud you.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.                                                                 C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shale Drilling

AOG and Shale Drilling....What’s Next?
Written by Junior Jenkins, Geologist

We are living in the midst of a shale energy revolution and ABARTA Oil & Gas is in the thick of it!  ABARTA and shale gas have a relationship that goes way back, back to when the company became actively involved in the nuts and bolts part of the oil and gas business.  One of the company’s first acquisitions was United Recoveries, Inc. in Pike County, Ky.  Shale gas production is nothing new in eastern Kentucky with early shale wells being drilled before 1920 with old cable tool rigs.  The early stimulation method to get the gas moving was to load up the hole with nitroglycerin and create a down-hole explosion.  This was a precursor to our modern day fracing, not as effective but much more dramatic!  The United Recoveries wells were producing “dry” gas from the Huron formation of the Devonian Shale interval, an organic rich deposit located across most of the Appalachian Basin from Tennessee to New York.  The lower part of the Devonian Shale interval contains the Marcellus shale which is most productive in northern West Virginia and throughout Pennsylvania.

The unique feature of shale gas is that the source of the gas and the reservoir holding the gas is the same rock.  This is known as a resource play.  Geologists have always known these organic rich rocks were full of gas, but the tight nature of the rock usually only allowed commercial gas production when natural fractures were encountered during drilling, so the gas could more easily flow to the well bore.  I think everyone was surprised at just how much gas these rocks could produce when horizontal drilling and modern fracturing techniques were developed.  The shale revolution is on!

ABARTA Oil & Gas is actively involved in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania and the Utica shale in Ohio.  The Utica shale is older (and deeper) being Ordovician age (~450 million years); as opposed to the Devonian age shale (~350 million years).  The Utica shale ABARTA is involved in is located in the “wet gas” window.  This means during the conversion of organics to hydrocarbons, the organic quality and thermal range was just right for liquids to form with the gas.  These liquids commonly include ethane, butane, propane and light oils.  Wet gas is generally more valuable because the liquids can be stripped out and sold separately.  That’s why everyone seems to be looking for wet gas today.  With the massive success of Marcellus and other shales throughout the country, the price of gas has fallen and any boost to improved economics by adding liquid hydrocarbon production is being pursued.

ABARTA Oil & Gas is committed to continue developing opportunities in the Marcellus and Utica shales, but what is the next new shale play?  ABARTA is currently working on a potential new shale play in Kentucky called the Rogersville shale.  This is a brand new shale that has never produced commercial gas, but information from some old deep test wells indicate potential for vast reserves at great depths.  The Rogersville shale is even older and deeper than the Marcellus or Utica shales and is Cambrian age (+500 million years).  This makes the potential shale play extremely risky and expensive, but the rewards could also be extreme!  The Rogersville shale play is located in a deep, narrow sub basin in eastern Kentucky called the Rome Trough.  Drilling depths will likely be about 2 miles deep!  It is anticipated that this deeper basin has preserved organic rich shales and a resource play can be established.  While data is limited, ABARTA is busy interpreting information and assembling a prospect for the Rogersville shale.  This shale should also have some liquids associated with it.  One very positive to this play is that ABARTA Oil & Gas has over 60,000 acres leased in eastern Kentucky that may be prospective for the Rogersville shale.  A lot of this acreage is held by production from shallower zones with additional acreage being leased when available.

The ABARTA geology team is busy and committed to developing active shale plays and identifying new shale opportunities wherever it may lead us.  We plan on being in the shale game for a long time!