Gas, oil companies seeking dedicated workers

The North Central Workforce Investment Board recently held a seminar about available and upcoming careers within Pennsylvania’s oil and gas extraction industry.Members of numerous career agencies were in attendance, along with those involved with the North Central Gas and Oil Extraction Industry Partnership, which services 17 counties.Development of the Marcellus Shale is in its infancy, with drilling activity only beginning in many parts of the state where there are not yet the pipeline systems in place needed to transport the gas from the wells to customers. Economic conditions and government hurdles have also slowed the pace of development.To date, a majority of the current well activity is occurring in the northeastern, north central and southwestern parts of the state. “The industry is still learning a lot about Marcellus gas. Wells in the active part of the state are producing three times what was expected of them,” said Eric Conrad of E.R. Conrad and Associate. “Marcellus gas and development is here to stay. We need to dispel (the myth) that this is only temporary.”He cited that Range Resources expects to be in the area for up to 10 years, when typically the company only plans for two-year jobs.Currently there are 30 major companies working in Pennsylvania, many of whom are making multibillion-dollar investments in the Marcellus Shale.“This will change Pennsylvania. It’s up to all of us to make sure it is a beneficial change. This country runs on energy. We are repeating some of our own history,” Conrad said, citing Colonel Edwin Drake’s drilling of the first commercial oil well near Titusville in 1859. He noted that employees in the industry will be in high demand. Among the most wanted employees are those trained as truck drivers/operators, equipment operators, drillers, geologists/geophysical staff, engineers and land agents. Drilling and service rig hands/roughnecks and production workers, including pumpers and well tenders, are most often entry-level positions requiring no specialized training. These positions were compiled from surveys conducted within the industry as the most often in demand.For more on this story see the Dec.1 edition of The Daily Press.