ADVANCED ENERGY BLOG — DAVE KARPINSKI
Leveraging best practices from Pennsylvania’s shale boom
Blog entry: April 23, 2012, 4:30 am
While Ohio and Pennsylvania are well known for their sports rivalries between the Browns and the Steelers, there is one thing both states have in common these days – an abundance of shale gas. The Marcellus shale boom in Pennsylvania began about six years ago. Since then the State has leveraged this naturally occurring resource to benefit Pennsylvania residents and its economy. So how can Ohio learn from Pennsylvania’s experience to accelerate the emerging Utica shale opportunity faster and smarter?
Recently, I was part of a small group of Northeast Ohio leaders that traveled to Pittsburgh for a best practices “shale trade mission,” of sorts. The Northeast Ohio delegation consisted of leaders from NorTech, Team NEO, WIRE-Net, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Huntington Bank, Eastern Gateway Community College and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. These organizations are working together with other partners across Ohio, under the leadership of JobsOhio, to maximize the participation of Ohio workforce and Ohio supply chain companies in the shale industry.
During the Pittsburgh visit, we met with the Marcellus Shale Coalition, local economic development agencies, county government officials and supply chain companies. The goal was to share lessons learned from shale development in Pennsylvania and understand the challenges associated with supply chain and workforce development. We also toured the MarkWest midstream processing facility and discussed Ohio’s compelling midstream advantage, given the large supply of wet gas that exists in Ohio’s Utica shale.
While the job creation estimates for shale development in Ohio have ranged from 20,000 to 200,000, one thing is clear. Oil gas reserves are in Ohio and the industry is flocking here to extract the value stored in these reserves. But if we don’t act and do everything we can to maximize the Utica shale opportunity for Ohioans, we could miss out on the full economic impact and jobs this industry will bring to the state.
A recent study commissioned by the Ohio Shale Coalition, says that drilling in Ohio is expected to ramp up quickly by 2014 with over a 1,000 wells being drilled per year. And, if the oil and gas companies can’t find the talent they need in Ohio, they will bring in workers from other states.
According to the Marcellus Shale Education and Training Center, at the beginning of Pennsylvania’s shale boom between seven and eight out of 10 new hires in the natural gas core and ancillary industries operating in the Marcellus were not residents of Pennsylvania. In 2010, the number of out of state hires was reduced to three out of 10.
What changed? Programs like ShaleNET, a comprehensive recruitment, training, placement, and retention program funded by the Department of Labor, are helping to bridge the gap for high priority occupations in Pennsylvania’s natural gas drilling and production industry.
Eastern Gateway Community College has developed a training curriculum through a partnership with Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia that was made possible by ShaleNET. In Ohio, Eastern Gateway is the only college that is participating in the program.
“Our experience with the ShaleNET program has given us an early advantage to train and place Ohioans in jobs that are being created by the emerging oil and gas industry in our state,” said Dr. Laura Meeks, president of Eastern Gateway Community College. She continued, “This is just the beginning of the process. Ohio universities, community colleges and careers centers need to accelerate the pace of collaboration to successfully meet the workforce demands of the industry with Ohio workers.”
To help address Ohio’s workforce demand in the oil and gas industry, Northeast Ohio and Pittsburgh leaders are now in discussion about a potential TechBelt (Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh) federal grant collaboration to fund the next evolution of the ShaleNET program.
Shale development presents a variety of opportunities and challenges for Ohio. Now is the time to tackle these issues and form partnerships between the public and private sector to bring the shale opportunity to fruition. Collaboration will be key to Ohio’s success in shale.
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