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Natural gas drilling will employ a variety of professions
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
By Wendy B. Lynn Staff Writer
While many people gathered at last night's informational meeting about the Marcellus Shale to learn more about how the gas will be extracted and to ask questions about leasing, others were concerned about the economic impact of the drilling, specifically jobs.

Lou D'Amico of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association talked about the economic impact of the gas drilling, and the Marcellus Shale Committee provided printed information on jobs to the crowd.

Mr. D'Amico said eventually there will be new jobs and opportunities for Pennsylvania including a full range of professions and skilled trades. In 2008 a committee was commissioned to conduct a study on the impact. Currently in the natural gas industry, $4.5 billion directly results from the industry with a total impact of $7.1 billion with more than 10,000 direct jobs.

To project the economic impact of the Marcellus Shale, the committee looked at the impact of the Barnett Shale in Texas, which covers only 5,000 square miles as opposed to the 95,000 square miles of the Marcellus Shale. In Texas, 55,000 direct jobs were created with a $10 billion economic output totaling 5 percent of the economic output.

There are about 1,000-1,500 permits out now for well drilling and about 500-600 are expected to be drilled. The reason for such a low number is simple: the economy. Right now, natural gas is less than $4 per gallon. The price has to be at least $5 or higher to justify the cost of multiple drilling sites. Much of the drilling taking place now is to test the area and see how well it will produce.

But Mr. D'Amico and others assured the audience that jobs are on their way but cautioned, "not everyone is going to find a job right away." At the moment there are more people coming in from other states to do the work, but that is mostly because the work force in Pennsylvania has not been trained specifically for this industry.

One of the handouts the committee supplied said, "While the development of natural gas from the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale is in its earliest phase, the demand for a skilled workforce is already expanding rapidly. It is likely with the continued development ... and the aging of the current natural gas industry workforce, more than 100,000 well-paying jobs will be generated in businesses associated with this industry before the end of the decade. ... There is an immediate need for truck drivers and equipment operators, drillers, geologists, engineers, land professionals and production workers."

Schools such as the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford are already offering job training programs for the industry, and more are planned at other schools. Not all of the jobs will require a college degree, but most do.

The following is a list of some of the many jobs and the education needed for each:

  • abstractor/title examiner: high school diploma or two-year degree requiring courthouse knowledge and the ability to work through legal documents and titles to create an ownership chain.
  • chemical technician: minimum two-year diploma in chemical technology or a related program.
  • derrick hand: high school diploma.
  • draftsman/cartographer: two-year college degree or higher.
  • electrician: trade school certification or two-year college degree.
  • environmental technician: minimum two-year degree in environmental technology or related field.
  • field engineer: two- or four-year college degree or five-plus years of experience in field operations.
  • geochemist: four-year college degree or higher.
  • geologist: four-year college degree or higher. An advanced degree is needed for many research positions.
  • lease agent: high school diploma or two-year degree. Requires good people skills and the ability to negotiate and a legal understanding of mineral ownership.
  • production foreman: high school diploma.
  • roustabout: high school diploma.
  • surveyor: not required to have a college education, but state licensing requirements make it preferable to earn one.
  • welder: high school diploma and welding school certification.

More information about job opportunities can be found at www.pamarcellus.com. Inform- ation can also be found at local CareerLink offices or at the CareerLink Web site, www.cwds. state.pa.us. On the Web site go to the "Individuals" section on the left, select "find a job," "browse jobs" and type "oil and gas" in the keyword, or select "Construction and Extraction" under job category and the desired location.

 


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