Short-term Hangover, Long-term Optimism in Marcellus Shale
Even with a more somber mood due to persistently low gas prices, activity over the course of the summer in the Marcellus Shale is a testament to the long-term nature of investment the boom in shale gas production is having on this region. The frenzy that led to outrageous land lease prices a couple years ago has settled to a more stable level, but current spot prices of natural gas below $3.00 / MMBtu are a challenge to producers who locked in those elevated land prices. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still amazing opportunities for operators, municipalities, and citizens here. One service provider noted at the recent PIOGA Eastern O&G Conference and Trade Show that they had laid off about 40 workers only to hire them back a week later due to an unexpected large order. Tius is the nature of operating in this uncertain environment.
Opportunities and Challenges
As many of the meetings we visited showed, the predominant challenge isn’t dealing with or preventing worker cut-backs due to a slowdown in production. The real challenge is making the most of this opportunity by training enough local workers to meet the long-term needs of producers and support operations. Local training programs for specific areas of expertise such as
roughnecks, CDL truck drivers with off-road experience, welders with DOT pipeline experience, survey crews, environmental incident response and remediation have seen record enrollment. However, as pointed out in numerous recent articles, these training programs are often not equipped to handle the required growth in skilled workers without cannibalizing other manufacturing bases. Some training programs such as Pierpont Community and Technical College’s Free Oil and Gas Training Program (funded through Marcellus ShaleNET and the US Dept. of Labor) are designed to give workers the specific skills they need to operate in oil and gas.
Major developments such Shell’s proposed ethane cracker in Beaver County show the long-term, structural nature of investment in the region by oil & gas firms of all sizes. State, regional and municipal organizations must coordinate to prepare the workforce to take advantage of these opportunities while maintaining a commitment to safety and sensitivity to environmental concerns. Pat Pauly of the PA State Fire Commissioner’s Office reported their initial 4 hour training course for first responders has now been attended by over 4000 students.
Boots on the Ground
EKT Interactive representatives regularly attend and contribute to local events, meetings and conferences as part of our commitment to having a first-hand understanding of the needs and developments in the Marcellus and Utica regions.
About EKT Interactive
EKT Interactive, Inc is a leading provider of customized, large-scale, interactive safety and operations training programs for the oil & gas industry. Our web-based e-learning program, accessible at your convenience, saves time away from the job and travel costs. Learning is self-paced and interactive with progress self-testing at topic milestones. Rich content incorporates pre-work, videos, “war stories” and a glossary to enable rapid and comprehensive fuel quality knowledge transfer.
Online learning modules are developed by field-experienced oil and gas instruction experts using proven web learning applications that closely match the classroom effectiveness. Social media enables all to communicate easily with our subject matter experts and the student community. Programs are SCORM compliant and integrate with your company Learning Management System. Modules available on the web enable you to review and refresh learning in the future.
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