Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Community Center Breaks Ground

community center  noun:  a building or group of buildings where there are classes and activities for the people who live in a community.  The community of O’Hara Township, where AOG headquarters are located, was sorely in need of a new community center.
Built in the 1950s as an elementary school, the Boyd Community Center housed the Lauri Ann West Memorial Library, classrooms and a non-regulation size gymnasium where a local community theater performed, basketball was played and yoga classes took place.  A catering company continues to work out of the original elementary school cafeteria kitchen, and groups rent classrooms and the gymnasium for private events.  But to say that the building has outgrown its useful life is a gross understatement.  Simply replacing windows and floors wouldn’t work.  The building was seriously out of date.

Long before the library moved to a newly-constructed building to become the Cooper Siegel Community Library, local residents anticipated the need and began working to raise funds to build a new community center to serve six local municipalities and beyond.  $7 million had already been raised when Jim Taylor, President and CEO of ABARTA Energy, was tasked with raising the remaining $1 million needed to construct the new Lauri Ann West Community Center.  Unfortunately, by the time the $8.1 million goal was met, the bids for construction came in at $9.4 million.  Thankfully O’Hara Township came to the rescue with a $1.5 million five-year loan so work could begin in the summer of 2014.

Above you’ll see Jim Taylor (third from the right), Shelley Bitzer (fifth from the right) and Lauri Ann West’s mother clapping in the foreground on that memorable day when the ground was finally broken.  The front portion of the existing building that housed the library has been torn down, but the gymnasium and classrooms remain so that operations can continue during construction.  The new 28,000 square foot facility will house a regulation-size gym, an elevated indoor walking track, drop-off child-care room, art and dance studios, a fitness center, a café, an outdoor patio, a large community room and after-school arts and enrichment room for kids.

Jim reports that long ago before the elementary school was built the land was used for agricultural purposes, so the new center has been designed to remind one of a barn.

Imagine being able to say you played a major role in making it possible for this incredible facility to be built.  Jim is working with the Board of Directors and the Capital Campaign Leadership Team to make this dream become a reality.  According to Jim, “The Lauri Ann West Community Center, The Cooper-Siegel Community Library (http://www.coopersiegelcommunitylibrary.org/) and the Aspinwall Riverfront Park (http://www.aspinwallriverfrontpark.org/) are the three most important community assets that will be built during our lifetime.”

To date, 700 donors have offered their support, but fundraising efforts continue.  To see plans for the new center and make a donation, please visit http://lauriannwestcommunitycenter.org/.

Just Like His Daddy

Luke Ferguson, son of Josh Ferguson (Kentucky Plant Supervisor), dressed for career day in kindergarten.  Of course he wants to be just like his daddy.

A Look Ahead at Potential Federal Regulation Changes

Ken Fleeman, Pittsburgh’s Manager of Engineering, was asked to write an article about proposed changes to Federal regulations that will affect the oil and gas industry.  This article was published in the December 2014 issue of The Northeast ONG Marketplace and can be found online via: 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

155th Anniversary of Drake's Well

Kathy Flaherty, Pittsburgh Geologist, leads the celebration of the anniversary of Drake's Well on or around August 27th.  This year, like every other, Kathy and a team of bakers laid out a hearty spread of breakfast treats for the Pittsburgh office. To commemorate the first commercial oil well drilled in the United States, Kathy writes an ode or rap as shown above.  The "Drake Well Rap" will be included in Kathy's next publication, More Oily Odes.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

ABARTA Energy Invests in Energy Futures

For some people, the word “futures” may evoke images of stock market pits crowded with traders gesturing, scribbling on notepads and yelling numbers related to pork bellies, orange juice and other global commodities.  But the energy “futures” that ABARTA Energy is investing in are far closer to home – they involve our local communities, schools, children and our industry. 

Because we believe that energy education is so important, ABARTA Energy has presented Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania (JA) with a donation of $10,000 to enable them to continue their very successful “Careers in Energy” program, designed to teach middle school students about different types of energy, the economic and environmental impact of each, and careers in the industry and related fields.   The investment earned ABARTA Energy the JA 2014 Bronze Leadership Circle Award.  JA’s leadership circle includes many other local oil and gas companies, among them Range Resources. 

ABARTA Energy’s JA Team with Manager of JA STEM Initiatives Krista Myers 
(L to R):  Kathy Flaherty, Krista Myers, Ken Fleeman and Jim Taylor 

Presenting the award to Jim Taylor on July 11, 2014, JA’s STEM Initiatives Manager, Krista Myers, stated: “ABARTA Energy was awarded the Bronze Leadership Circle Award in recognition of their tremendous support of the JA Careers in Energy Program—a middle grades program that educates students about the energy industry and the vast opportunities available within the field.”  This year alone, JA’s “Careers in Energy” program served more than 2,000 of our western Pennsylvania students and several hundred in West Virginia.  Topics range from the importance of energy in our everyday lives and benefits and drawbacks of all energy sources, to natural gas exploration and environmental activism and are covered in the seven lessons featured in the curriculum.  The program provides a factual foundation of the science, engineering, business and societal aspects of the petroleum industry, and a peek into the career opportunities that reflect the current needs of our local, growing energy economy.   Jim Taylor welcomed the invitation to sponsor this important effort:  “We support the goal of the JA ‘Careers in Energy’ program, educating future generations about possibilities in the energy industry that promise to bring economic benefits and certain energy security to Pennsylvanians for decades to come.” 

Junior Achievement Leadership Circle Award presented to ABARTA Energy for 
financial and in-kind support.

Interested in becoming more personally involved with the JA mission, Ken Fleeman ventured into the eighth grade classroom at Burgettstown Area Middle/High School and instructed six classes.  Ken’s lessons for the day focused on the environmental footprint of our daily activities and the liability of every energy type, including solar, wind, geothermal and hydrocarbons.  The classes viewed an animated film of horizontal drilling, which led to candid discussions on oilfield practices and modern frac technology.  Although the lesson was based on the JA-prepared curriculum materials, Ken also drew on his own expertise and observations, including workplace expectations of employees.  From his day in the classroom, Ken is gratified to know that “we have bright, inquisitive young people who are interested in the energy industry; the future will be in good hands.”

As part of their JA Energy packets, each student also receives a bookmark featuring the ABARTA Energy logo on one side, and the basic geological stratigraphic column on the other.  It is a useful tool to note the age of the various oil and gas producing rocks, their relative depths, their rock types – and it does a fine job marking a page in a book!

Friday, June 6, 2014

ABARTA Energy Launches Newly Redesigned Website

ABARTA Energy is pleased to announce the release of our newly redesigned website on June 1, 2014.  Located at the same address:  www.abartaenergy.com, the website is designed with a fresh new look and user-friendly navigation.  The new site fits all types of browser resolutions, whether the user is on a desktop computer, smart phone or tablet.  Our main goal was to build a user-friendly and easy to navigate site.  The new design allows users to quickly find the content they are looking for thanks to its low hierarchical design structure.

We hope that you will enjoy browsing our new website.  If you experience any problems or have suggestions for improvement, please contact us at info@abartaenergy.com.

KY Mud Runners Benefit Camp Caleb

Jamie Preece #332, Dave Sagraves #326 & Brandon Howard #330 pictured BEFORE the race.
On Saturday, May 31st, Jamie Preece (KY Field Office),  David Sagraves and Brandon Howard (Gas Plant) along with some family members and friends participated in the 2nd Annual Caleb’s Mountain Mud Run 5K.  Proceeds from this event will benefit Camp Caleb and their ministry to children throughout Appalachia as well as Hope in the Light, a mission ministering to hurting people in Haiti. The course wrapped through and around the scenic 400 acre camp where runners faced challenging terrain and various obstacles. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tom Bartos Rings Bell at NYSE

Tom Bartos, CFO of ABARTA Energy, has been serving on the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Board of Governors for seven years and as a member was invited to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as a kick off at their Oil & Gas Investments Symposium (OGIS) Monday, April 7th in New York.  This is not the first time Tom has been given this honor, but it was every bit as thrilling the second time around.

The IPAA is the leading, national upstream trade association representing oil and natural gas producers that drill 95% of the nation's oil and natural gas wells.  These companies account for 54% of America's oil production and 85% of its natural gas production.  The IPAA OGIS New York is the premier outlet for publicly traded independent exploration and production and service and supply companies to present their company profiles to the investment community.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Local Marcellus Drilling Relies on Regional Manufacturing for Steel Pipe

Written by Vince Delbrugge, Manager, Unconventional Drilling Operations

On April 8th, I was one of five ABARTA Energy employees to tour three local factories owned by TMK IPSCO that make the steel tubular products that we use to drill and complete our wells. Manufacturing processes used to make the pipe include those that are icons for Pittsburgh and the Ohio Valley: melting, casting, forming and cutting of steel. Dan Allen and Doug Dye, representing Miller Supply, and Tony Cargo, representing TMK IPSCO, hosted the tour. After meeting in Robinson Township for breakfast, we drove to the three different facilities in Ambridge and Koppel, Pennsylvania and Brookfield, Ohio (see map below highlighting locations) to watch production and learn how their operation influences ours. I describe some of the interesting processes in this article.
(1) Plant Tour Locations

(2) ABARTA ENERGY (AE) tours pipe manufacturing facilities owned by TMK IPSCO
L to R:  Doug Dye, Miller Supply; Shane Huffman, AE Geologist; Cliff Simmons, AE Director of Operations; Dan Allen, Miller Supply; John Emmerling, AE VP/COO; Jim Watson, AE Director of Unconventional Operations; and author Vince Delbrugge, AE Manager, 
Unconventional Drilling Operations.
The Koppel facility is modified to melt and cast the types of steel used for our applications. Electric arc furnaces use huge amounts of electricity to melt steel scrap which is the first operation of manufacturing tubing and pipe. Melting in an arc furnace is a spectacular event. Like lightning in a big bucket, thousands of Amperes of electric current spark between graphite electrodes and the steel. Both electric current and radiating light easily add enough heat to reach the steel melting temperature of nearly 3,000˚F. Sophisticated technology is used to measure and modify the amount of elements in the molten steel before they are cast into the solid, cylinder-shaped, billets. Small, precise amounts of carbon, manganese, chrome, molybdenum and other elements are specified and controlled in the molten metal that is about 97% iron.  Scrap metal for melting is limited to certain steels, because some elements cannot be removed or reduced once they are melted.
(3) Electrodes melting steel in the arc furnace.

(4) Continuous casting the round billets at the Koppel facility.
Billets cool and solidify in the Koppel factory with the shape, properties and element composition that all influence quality of the finished pipe. After cooling to room temperature, the billets are transported by truck to the factory in Ambridge where we watched them form the solid billets into the sizes and shapes for our oil and gas applications. The metal is stretched, bent, twisted and squeezed using a variety of traditional cold and hot processes that are performed at different temperatures ranging up to 2,300˚F. The first forming process at Ambridge is rotary piercing which creates the hole in the pipe that is called the inner diameter. This interesting process is illustrated below in details (a) through (d). Details (e) and (f) are sections of billets that were photographed after interrupting the rotary piercing process and cutting the billets that show the growth of the inner diameter. Subsequent forming processes at Ambridge refine the diameters, roundness and straightness of the tubular material that we need for our oil and gas operations. Heating and cooling processes called quench and temper change the atomic structure of the steel to increase its strength. 
(5, 6 & 7)
Size and shape of the pipe and tubing is complete when it leaves Ambridge, but it cannot be used yet for oil and gas operations. Almost all of our tubular products are connected together with screw threads, which are cut into the ends of the products at the Brookfield, Ohio facility (see below). We had the opportunity to watch an Okuma lathe cut threads into the outer diameter of pipe used for our production casing, which is the pipe that extends from the surface to the bottom of the well. Okuma lathes and many other machine tools can maintain tolerances of 1/10,000ths of an inch, which is more precise than is required for successful pipe connections. Roundness, straightness and other shape tolerances of pipe products and other structural materials created during forming are the most important factors that determine our pipe connection quality, and we saw the extensive inspection operations at Brookfield diligently monitoring those properties both before and after cutting the threads. Some of the pipe from Ambridge must be rejected at Brookfield because the threads cannot be successfully cut due to the shape distortion.
(8) Pipe threads cut on a lathe at the Brookfield, Ohio facility.
 (9) Coolant is used while the tungsten-carbide tool moves along the billet to remove metal and cut the thread geometry.
Working with suppliers gives us knowledge about their capabilities that will help our planning for our wells. Visiting the different facilities gave us the chance to observe processes that are critical in the path of manufacturing our casing, tubing and drill pipe, and we know how to evaluate the important characteristics and improve the quality of our wells. We are grateful to TMK IPSCO for the opportunity to tour their facilities and purchase material for our wells that is made here in our region.

Image References.
[1] Image from Google Earth.
[2] Image by Anthony Cargo.
[3] Mr. Blaaaaah. An Electric Arc Furnace’s Three Graphite Electrodes. Web. http://www.reddit.com/domain/siemens.com/.
[4] Web. http:/www.alibaba.com/product-detail/TIEQI-High-Performance-flexible-dummy-bar_56…
[5] Schematic of the rotary piercing operation. Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Schraegwalzen.png. Modified by Vince Delbrugge.
[6] E. Ceretti, E.; Giardini, C.;  Attanasio, A.; Brisotto, F.; and Capoferri, G. Figure 6. Longitudinal section of the rod, start and development of the hole, in FEM Analysis of Rotary Tube Piercing Process. Web. http://www.tubenet.org.uk/technical/piercing.html. Modified by Vince Delbrugge.
[7] E. Ceretti, E.; Giardini, C.;  Attanasio, A.; Brisotto, F.; and Capoferri, G. Figure 7. Α 3˚, Formation of the internal hole in the rolling direction: =Comparison between simulation and experiment, in FEM Analysis of Rotary Tube Piercing Process. Web. http://www.tubenet.org.uk/technical/piercing.html. Modified by Vince Delbrugge.
[8] Industrial Piping Specialists, Incorporated. Web. http://www.ipipes.com/?page_id=144.
[9] Okuma. Web. http://www.okuma.com/loc-series-oil-country-lathe.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ABARTA Energy Well Represented at NAPE East

Written by Tom Bartos, CFO

ABARTA Energy rolled out its new identity at NAPE East in April at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.  In addition to being represented by staff on the exhibit floor, I was one of four speakers on an open panel discussion with other industry leaders  from MarkWest, Talisman Energy and CONSOL Energy.  A brief overview of our company follows.

ABARTA Energy, also known as ABARTA Oil & Gas Co, was founded in 1979 as a way to further diversify Taylor and Bitzer family interests, which at the time consisted of newspapers and Coca-Cola bottling plants.  The company began by making relatively small energy investments each year with different oil and gas developers and remained a passive financial partner through the late 1980s.

In 1995, Jim Taylor, a third generation family shareholder, realizing the opportunity to increase shareholder value in the energy business, joined ABARTA Energy and assembled a management team to move the company to the next level.  ABARTA Energy then became a more active partner with energy companies who shared its vision for growth.  We developed in-house expertise in geology, engineering and operations so we could pursue a balance between continued growth through the drill bit and acquisitions.  In 1997, ABARTA Energy completed its transition to an operating company by acquiring the joint venture assets from Meridian Exploration and by 2007, owned and operated over 1,000 wells in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.

Today we own an interest in over 2,100 oil and natural gas wells in eight states with over 50% of our revenues derived from participating in horizontal shale joint ventures in Bradford and Tioga Counties, Pennsylvania, and a Utica shale joint venture with Rex Energy in Ohio.

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, we have field offices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky where we operate over 750 conventional wells, 260 miles of pipelines along with multiple compression stations and sizeable sour gas and cryogenic plants. 

ABARTA Energy strategically decided not to be a first mover in the Marcellus and subsequently participated in the play once it became derisked by other companies.  In 2010, ABARTA Energy joint ventured with two established public companies on our acreage in Bradford and Tioga counties to develop the Marcellus.  To date, ABARTA Energy has participated in over 115 horizontal shale wells in Pennsylvania and Ohio with our joint venture partners.

The company currently owns approximately 130,000 acres of oil and gas leases for unconventional development in the Marcellus, Utica, Burket and Rogersville shales.  All the operated acreage in Pennsylvania is strategically positioned in a proven, stacked shale area with plans to continue developing our shale assets in the coming years.

Additionally, ABARTA Energy owns over 70,000 mostly contiguous and HBP (held by production) acreage in Kentucky containing highly prospective Rogersville shale development opportunities.  The Rogersville shale is a liquids-rich resource play in the Cambrian section of the Rome Trough, at depths of 10-12,000 ft.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Utica Shale….Warrior South

Written by Shane Huffman, Geologist    

     In this modern period of unconventional shale plays, the industry again has shifted its attention to the Appalachian Basin, this time to explore the Utica Shale.  During the last three years, operators have applied their exploration efforts to the more oil-prone and liquids-rich shale plays.  Much like the Eagle Ford Shale in southern Texas, the Utica has three distinctive windows for exploration: a dry gas window, a liquids-rich gas window, and an oil window, making the shale an economically attractive target for the industry (See Figure).

The recent focus of exploration activity for the Utica Shale has been primarily in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania where the formation reaches depths of 3,500 feet along the western margin and deepens eastward to 10,000 feet.  
     The Utica Shale is an organic, carbonate rich black shale deposited in warm oceans that extended from Quebec to Tennessee during the Late Ordovician period (443 – 490 million years ago).  The formation lies between 2,000 and 4,000 feet below the Marcellus Shale and has been a major source rock for oil and gas in the deep reservoirs in the Appalachian Basin.  The thickness of the Utica varies from less than 100 feet to more than 500 feet.  The primary pay target is the lowermost 120 to 140 feet of the formation known as the Point Pleasant.
     The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates potential recoverable reserves from the Utica Shale to be between 1.5 and 5.5 billion barrels of oil and between 3.8 and 15.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  The vast reserves of oil and natural gas estimated by the industry and state geologists have been called a “game-changer” for American energy independence and could even surpass the energy potential in the Marcellus Shale.
     In the wake of the evolving play, ABARTA Oil & Gas has positioned itself to benefit from the development of this natural gas resource.  In the spring of 2012, ABARTA Oil & Gas entered into a partnership with Medina Fuel Company and Rex Energy to jointly explore and develop approximately 6,400 acres in Guernsey, Noble, and Belmont counties, Ohio, known as our Warrior South Project.  Warrior South falls in what has been deemed the “sweet spot” of the Point Pleasant as it lies in the liquids-rich gas window. 
     Rex Energy serves as the project operator and to date has drilled a total of 8 wells, all of which are currently producing.  The project has added significant volumes to our reserves and is proving to be a successful venture with an additional 6 wells planned for 2014.