There are a few ways to know when a play is taking off. The easiest, of course, is to hang out at county offices watching landmen wrangle over leases. But conference attendance is another. When more than 1,000 people are willing to take time out of their busy lives to attend a one-day conference about a particular play, one can assume that the play is of significant interest.

So it is with Hart’s Developing Unconventional Gas (DUG) East Conference, which will be held in Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct. 19. Focusing on the Marcellus Shale play in that region, this is the first time the DUG conferences have been held anywhere besides Fort Worth, Texas, smack in the middle of the Barnett Shale.

The event was originally scheduled to have been held at the Westin Hotel, but due to overwhelming response that forced the company to close the registration and start wait-listing people, the decision was made to move the venue to the adjacent David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The buildings are across the street from each other and are connected via a sky bridge.

Registration is now reopened at, and the venue change also allows room for more exhibitors and sponsors. (Contact Craig Moritz at if you’re interested in exhibiting at or sponsoring the event.)

DUG East is the only Marcellus Shale conference where executives from operating companies will discuss their drilling plans and programs. Confirmed speakers include Aubrey McClendon, chairman and CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp.; Jeff Ventura, president and COO of Range Resources Corp.; Murry S. Gerber, chairman and CEO of EQT Corp.; Mike Walen, senior vice president and COO of Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.; Randall Albert, senior vice president Emerging Business Unit, CNX Gas Corp.; and Frank Semple, CEO of MarkWest Energy.

Obviously as an employee of Hart I like to see my company succeed. But I think the bigger takeaway here is that the industry is still chasing these next big plays, even in our current economic climate. Shale plays are a tough way to make a living unless you crack their mysterious codes. And obviously the Marcellus is the next target in the scope.