As the Marcellus Shale gas industry ramps up, so will the need for local workers, including general laborers, truck drivers, heavy equipment operators and general office workers, said James Ladley of the Marcellus Shale Education and Training Center.
Ladley spoke Friday at the Community Art Center during the Natural Gas Career Expo information session.
The event kicked off the two-day Marcellus Career Expo of North Central PA. The expo includes a job fair which will be held today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pennsylvania College of Technology field house.
According to Ladley, the center, which is a partnership between the college and the Penn State Cooperative Extension, studied the number and types of jobs being created by the Marcellus Shale gas industry.
The study focused on 19 counties in Pennsylvania, specifically in the southwestern and northcentral regions of the state, including Lycoming County, where there "a lot of drilling activity," he said.
The study showed that by 2014, the industry will produce between 12,000 and 19,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the pre-drilling and drilling phase of the industry, and 1,000 to 1,700 full-time equivalent jobs in the production and processing phase of the industry.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for the workforce and a tremendous opportunity for people who want to work," Ladley said.
Ladley then asked if the gas industry will provide employment opportunities for local workers. In answering his own question, he said, "yes."
Representatives from several companies that will be at today's job expo also spoke and they agreed with Ladley.
Ken Byner of Houston, Texas-based drilling contractor Precision Drilling, said his company has 10 rigs in operating in the shale, each of which requires 20 people to operate, he said.
As the number of rigs the company operates increases, so will the need for workers to operate them, he said.
Shannon Pope of Cudd Energy Services, said the company is looking to add 100 people to its Canton facility, including commercial drivers and well services workers.
Mark Farabee of Halliburton, said his company has hired about 40 local workers for its Montgomery cement mixing plant. The company eventually will employ up to 300 workers, he said.
Equipment rental company Allis Chalmers plans to open an industry support operation on Route 405 in Muncy within a month or two, said company spokesman Spencer Brizzard. That operation will need local workers, he said.
Jeffrey F. Lorson, education and training center director, discussed college courses designed to prepare workers for the natural gas industry, including the Fit 4 Natural Gas program.
One of the graduates of that program, Jerry Ogden of Wellsboro, said the program has been instrumental in helping him get a job with a land services company.
Ogden said he graduated from Penn State University with a degree in business and moved out of the area to pursue better job opportunities.
He worked in investment banking and started a property management company before moving back to the area to get a job in the gas industry.
"Fit 4 Natural Gas has been worth its weight in gold to me," he said.
Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Jason Fink gave an overview of the gas industry in the county.
Fink discussed the reasons why the industry wants to locate here, including access to interstate highways and rail and air service, hotels, housing, recreation and culture.
Fink also discussed the companies that have moved here and the local businesses that have benefited as a result of them moving here.
Larry Michael, executive director for workforce and economic development at Penn College, said a job fair held last spring drew between 2,500 and 3,000 job seekers.
About 20 companies will be on hand for today's job fair, he said.