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Energy’s Latest Target: Women

By Alan Neuhauser

After two decades changing diapers, nanny Shelly Alexander was ready for a change herself.

“I wanted a job I could use my brain for,” says Alexander, who lives in Spring Valley in northeast Pennsylvania. “I had a great job, but I had no retirement, I had no benefits. It was just time.”

She tried working for a local gym. She made meal plans for friends, flirting with the idea of becoming a dietitian. But at age 40, four years of college to get the degree she’d need for that job held little appeal. Plus, in the past decade, a far more lucrative opportunity had moved into the area: hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking and horizontal drilling have unleashed an energy extravaganza in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic. American and international energy companies are churning out billions of barrels of oil and gas and attracting thousands of workers eager for entry-level paychecks of $50,000 to $60,000. In fact, in boom states like North Dakota, demand for workers is outstripping supply, as jobs remain unfilled for lack of qualified workers.

“We need more women, more workers,” says Randy Pacheco, dean of the San Juan College School of Energy in New Mexico. “The energy companies want to hire them. Whether it’s Chevron or BP or Conoco, they’re looking for them. They’re just looking for responsible, hardworking people.”

Regional colleges in boom towns from Pennsylvania to New Mexico have launched one-year certificate and two-year associate programs to train workers – with students’ educations often underwritten by the very energy companies that hope to hire them.

“A lot of the companies are struggling to field a workforce,” says Rick Marquardt, executive director of Lackawanna College’s School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, which opened in Dimock, Pennsylvania, the heart of the country’s fracking boom. “We get calls for interviews from [energy] companies in Pittsburgh, Houston.”

The reason, he says: “When our students come out, they’re ready to work.”

That sounded just fine to Alexander, who heard about the program through a friend last year. Within months, she’d bought herself steel-toed boots, a pink hard hat, and begun driving 90 minutes, each way, to Lackawanna’s campus three times a week to earn an associate’s degree in Petroleum and Natural Gas Measurement, one of four programs offered by the School of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

“I’m going to do something men do, and I’m going to do it better,” she says. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life.”

Alexander is one of 18 women enrolled at the School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and the only woman enrolled in her particular program. All told, women make up 14 percent of the 129 students at the school. About 12 percent of the student body are minorities, mostly Latinos and Southeast Asians.

For $12,800 in tuition a year, they’ll spend two years immersed in the theories and science of oil and gas drilling, gaining the skills they need to work at fracking and drilling sites as well tenders, compression engineers, mud trackers and more. The goal is to produce workers, not analysts: Just about every student lands a summer internship at a fracking or drill site, and the job placement rate upon graduation is about 90 percent.

“It’s all science: physics, math computers,” Marquedt says. “We fill that gap between all the vo-tech schools and the four-year programs. We’re not interested in teaching them how to derive an equation.”

What they are interested in, though, is attracting more women to the program.

Geared toward an industry where the dorms are known as man-camps, and where the signing bonuses or other perks can include new pickup trucks – where most of the jobs, in other words, are overwhelmingly held by men – it’s a daunting challenge. A March 2014 study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing the oil and natural gas industry, found that women make up 19 percent of the workers in the oil and gas and petrochemical sectors. Women account for nearly half the country’s workforce overall.

On drilling rigs, production wells and fracking sites, that share sinks to about 15 percent, and the number is actually expected to keep falling.

Yet, says Lackawanna College president Mark Volk says, “This is a field that is open to women. We need to ensure they know there are opportunities for men and women.”

While the number of white-collar jobs for women in the industry is expected to rise through 2013, the study found, “The already-low shares of women in the semi-skilled and unskilled blue-collar occupational groups are projected to decline further,” according to the study, conducted by the consulting firm IHS Global.

For one, the chemicals used at fracking sites are hazardous to pregnant women, a 2013 report found, with the potential to cause congenital heart defects in their infants. The overwhelming number of men at the work sites and in the towns surrounding them raises the risk of on-the-job harassment and sexual assault. Police in the fracking boomtown of Willison, North Dakota, for example, have reported a marked rise in sexual assaults.

As far as the work itself, major oil and gas companies typically require their workers to have some amount of experience before they’re hired, industry insiders and school administrators say. That means most workers start at smaller, independent contractors, where back-breaking grunt work is often the order of the day, 12 hours at a time.

“With a contract company, there’s a lot of physical labor that’s required,” explains San Juan College’s Pacheco. “So it’s difficult for women to obtain that experience with the contractors and move on.”

As Irene Lewis Motts, communications director of Stark State’s Oil and Gas School in Ohio, explains, “They’re difficult jobs. Not that women can’t do it, but there’s certainly a lot of men that can’t do it, too.”

That has not deterred Sultana Holcomb, who, as a college senior studying petroleum engineering at Montana Tech, spent last summer both in offices and out in the field in an internship with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in Houston.

“Being a woman in the oil and gas industry, you definitely stand out,” Holcomb says. “It’s not like you’re out there in the field in a dress and high heels, but you do get attention.”

But, she adds, “I enjoy it, because I know I’m doing something right. I’m part of this new generation force that’s tearing down the stereotypes.”

Women like Holcomb are, as she describes, “making way for more women to come into the industry.” And as the IHS study points out, there remains “significant potential for female blue collar employment.” The key to fulfilling it, it says, is training.

That’s where the schools come in. Like military service academies, oil and gas programs like the ones at Lackawanna and San Juan give students enough knowledge to jump a rank, skipping low-status grunt work or intensive training to go straight to better paying and less-labor-intensive jobs with Chevron, Cabot, Halliburton and other major companies at fracking and drill sites.

It’s one of the reasons why helping launch a school to exclusively train an industry workforce can be a savvy financial investment for oil and gas companies. Not only does Cabot’s $2.5 million endowment of Lackawanna, for example, make for good PR, but the job training is funded in part by student-paid tuition.

Schools can also function as de facto recruitment agencies, too, helping attract the female and minority workers that the companies say they’re seeking. Lackawanna, for example, launched a support, advisory and networking group for its female students and alumni.

“We’re bringing together women in the industry at different levels,” says school project coordinator Betty Seelendbrandt, who launched and advises the group.

The discussion, she says, focuses less on issues one might expect from male-dominated drill sites and company towns, like sexual harassment or the danger of assault, than on other concerns: “The trepidation I think for most women is very commonplace, and that of fear of math and science,” Seelendbrandt says.

Latha Ramchand, dean of the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, offers a similar view.

“There are biases built in from an early age: ‘I can’t do math, I can’t do engineering.’ We just need to get over that mindset,” she says. Oil and gas programs, particularly ones that recruit women, help accomplish that.

During a recent visit to a fracking site, “we did’t see too many women where they were fracking,” Ramchand says. But, she adds, “If we have these dialogues – why don’t we have more women in these professions – if we have women at the table, men at the table, female role models we might change that.”

Holcomb, the Montana Tech student, agrees. Both men and women, she says, need to “realize the world is changing, and realize more and more women are working in the engineering workforce.”

Women entering the industry, she adds, should “have fun with it, too. It’s exciting when you’re breaking ground, when you’re doing something new not too many females have experienced.”

To see more articles like this please visit Transfac.com

Article Source: Neuhauser, A. (2014). Energy’s latest target: women. US News & World Report. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/energy-of-tomorrow/articles/2014/12/01/oil-and-gas-industrys-latest-target-women

 

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Gas Prices Will Soon Drop Below $2 Per Gallon

By Brad Tuttle

Gas prices have been falling for months, and thanks to plummeting oil prices, they’re expected to keep on dropping through the end of the year—dipping below $2 per gallon in some parts of the country.

Wholesale prices for U.S. crude oil are down 38% compared with June, and analysts expect prices to keep dropping in the weeks ahead. The trickle-down effect is that American drivers will be receiving a holiday gift in the form of cheaper and cheaper gas.

How cheap? The national average may hit $2.50, and gas stations in states where pump prices are already low are all but guaranteed to dip into sub-$2 territory.

“We’ll see at least one station in the nation at $2 by Christmas,” Patrick DeHaan, an analyst with the gas price-tracking site GasBuddy told Bloomberg recently. “And that’s not really a prediction at all. That’s more like a certainty.”

“Drivers in southeastern states may see a select few stations selling gas at or below $2 in the coming weeks,” AAA spokesman Josh Carrasco said in a news release.

Drivers in all states can expect increasingly cheaper prices at the pump through the end of the year. And drivers in states where prices are already below average—including Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas—are most likely to see prices drop below the $2 mark.

To see more articles like this please visit Transfac.com

Article Source: Tuttle, B. (2014). Gas prices will soon drop below $2 per gallon. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/money/3611655/cheap-gas-prices-2-per-gallon/?xid=twitter

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GasFrac’s president sees golden opportunity in waterless fracking in Ohio

By Tom Knox

Oil and gas companies want waterless fracking because it could work better than water fracking. Residents want waterless fracking because it saves millions of gallons of water and cuts down on transportation needed to truck used water away.

Add that to a failure of Ohio’s oil and gas companies to economically drill for oil in the northern and western part of the state’s Utica shale play, and Canadian company GasFrac Energy Services Inc. sees a golden opportunity, its president told me.

GasFrac has begun testing its first waterless fracking well in Tuscarawas County, as I reported last week.

“We think there’s a lot of work in Ohio and a lot of potential there,” said GasFrac president Jason Munro.

Munro couldn’t confirm that Houston-based EnerVest subsidiary EV Energy Partners LP (NASDAQ:EVEP) is the company working with the GasFrac on the test oil well, but its executives have made public comments alluding to the partnership. It’s one of the worst-keep secrets in the industry, one which EV executive chairman John Walker said could be its most valuable asset in the Utica.

GasFrac’s technique uses gelled propane instead of water in hydraulic fracturing. Munro said the technique could work in natural gas formations, but oil is the target. Drillers have had a hard time economically drilling for oil in Ohio; the process isn’t the same for extracting natural gas.

“The oil window in Utica appears to be water sensitive,” Munro said.

Fracking creates cracks in the shale formation to make it easier to bring oil out.

In the Utica oil window, shale captures and retains water when it’s used during fracking. It swells the formation, causing a blockage for the water and oil.

Propane is a gas and can come through those cracks easier, allowing the oil to flow more easily toward the surface.

“When you frack with water, you might get 8 (percent) to 40 percent of the water back,” Munro said. “With us, when fracking with hydrocarbon, you get 70 (percent) to 100 percent of the hydrocarbon back,” so it can be reused.

Concerns about water use will only grow. A Deloitte report on the topic found that Americans pay more for water than any other utility, and “shortages stemming from increased water competition and droughts” in many areas.

Researcher IHS Inc. found up to 10 percent of total capital expenditures can be attributable to a single shale well.

GasFrac has shaken up its management team – Munro joined the company this year – and is exploring selling or merging part or all of the Calgary, Alberta, company.

It lost $61 million (Canadian) in the first nine months of its latest fiscal year on sales of $31 million (Canadian).

The company has other businesses than waterless fracking, but a lot is riding on the test well. If the Ohio well is successful, “we’re talking different options than were presented before,” he said.

If it doesn’t do well?

“I certainly think the opportunity is a big one,” Munro said, but the company has a lot of options:“In my view, this won’t be our swan song if the well doesn’t work out.”

Editor’s note: Munro’s comment in an earlier version of this story confused some readers, so we paraphrased it for clarity.

Munro said the company is “cautiously optimistic” about the test well and is in talks with other area companies for potential partnerships. It should have some preliminary results on the well soon.

To see more articles like this please visit Transfac.com

Article Source: Knox, T. (2014). GasFrac’s president sees golden opportunity in waterless fracking in Ohio. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved from http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/11/gasfrac-s-president-sees-golden-opportunity-in.html

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Oil, gas industry tries to keep talent in pipeline

By David Conti

Four years ago, Bryan Dickson and Matt Ockree were among the youngest engineers working on gas well pads in Western Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale fields.

“I was out in the frack van with Bryan a lot of days and a lot of nights, learning from the people with more experience,” said Ockree, 27, a Lower Burrell native, recalling the training he received in trailers where engineers control the hydraulic fracturing of wells.

Ockree interned with Range Resources Corp., which hired him before he graduated from Penn State University’s petroleum engineering program. He now oversees the Fort Worth-based company’s internship program.

Dickson, 29, a Washington County native, was promoted to Northeast division engineering manager after less than five years at well completion company FTS International. He supervises the latest generation of engineers.

They’re part of what the expanding oil and gas industry calls the big shift change. Drilling veterans in their 50s and 60s, who cut their teeth on an oil boom that ended before these two engineers were born, are nearing retirement.

Many industries face the dilemma of replacing large groups of workers who are preparing to retire, especially in Western Pennsylvania where baby boomers outnumber 25- to 45-year-olds by about 130,000, according to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

“It’s probably more acute in the energy industry,” said conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky.

Twenty years of bust in the drilling business before the shale revolution gave Generation X little reason to pursue petroleum engineering degrees or jobs, leaving a gap between the dwindling number of boomers and a big batch of twentysomethings with high-tech knowledge, industry leaders say.

“We’ve been working pretty hard over the past … five years, to get past the baby boomer experience level and to fill that gap before it arrives,” said Nigel Hearne, president of Chevron Appalachia.

San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron, Pennsylvania’s 10th-biggest gas producer, announced last month that it would spend $20 million on programs to teach school children and train college students in Appalachia to eventually fill the industry’s high-demand jobs.

A third of the 115,000 oil and gas extraction workers nationwide are between 25 and 34, pulling the median age to 38.6, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s younger than any agricultural, mining, construction or manufacturing sector.

“There’s a pretty big gap in age between the senior management who are, like, 55 to 60, and us. A huge gap,” said Dickson, whose company has nearly 700 employees in Pennsylvania.

Bridging the gap

John Applegath remembers when a generation of World War II veterans ceded control of the industry to baby boomers. He recognized the latest shift a few years ago.

“We’re better prepared to handle it than in the past,” said Applegath, a 38-year veteran of the industry who leads Range Resources’ southern Marcellus division. “We’re embracing it. We’re doing a lot to get these younger folks up to speed.”

At its Cecil office, Range Resources, the state’s most prolific shale driller, holds meetings geared toward addressing generational differences between workers. More than half of the company’s 1,000 employees are younger than 45.

The older generation is more company-minded and expects to put in time before getting a say in big decisions, but “younger people, as soon as they feel comfortable, they’re looking for when (they) get a seat at the table,” Applegath said.

“I’m glad to see that kind of aggressiveness,” he said. “I like to say, ‘I’d rather use the rein than the spurs.’ ”

Companies are wise to embrace the new generation, said Josh Hickman, founder of Young Professionals in Energy Pittsburgh, whose monthly networking events are called Crew Changes.

“When you want to take that retirement, who’s going to watch over your pensions, your stock?” said Hickman, whose Canonsburg-based Hickman Geological Consulting contracts with energy companies and landowners.

Younger workers want to know they have room for advancement, he said. They need exposure, though, to experienced mentors and some old-fashioned networking skills, which his group helps facilitate.

The growth of the drilling industry allows for some instant gratification for new hires, young workers said.

“It was boots-on-the-ground right away. You’re right in the business fast,” said Carrie Schimizzi, 27, of Latrobe, a land agent for Range Resources, who joined the company once she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a law degree and discovered the “dismal” job market for lawyers.

Amanda Lyle, 24, of Shaler is five years younger than Dickson, her boss at FTS, but she is training new engineers after less than two years on the job.

“My friends in chemicals and plastic industries aren’t moving that fast; they don’t have that potential,” she said.

Interns and mentors

To feed the pipeline of young workers needed to replace retirees, companies are focusing on internship programs and other partnerships with Pennsylvania schools, including Penn State, where the petroleum engineering program is graduating nearly 200 students per class.

“I was always told that I would have to leave Pittsburgh to find a really good job, but now I am here at Range and I could not ask for a more amazing job coming right out of college,” said operations engineer Wade Lipscomb, 22, a Stanton Heights native who interned with Range Resources while attending Penn State.

Range Resources brings in 12 interns a year and has hired nearly three-quarters of them, said spokesman Mark Windle.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Pennsylvania’s second-largest shale gas producer, this year gave $2.5 million to Lackawanna College to endow the petroleum and natural gas program that the Susquehanna County school established five years ago. Cabot has not started to experience the generational shift, but it expects to.

The endowment “ensures there’s a quality college nearby to supply those workers we will need,” said Cabot spokesman George Stark.

Once hired, young workers get intense field work — new Range Resources engineers live on drilling rigs for 12 days at a time — and lots of time with experienced supervisors. At FTS, all engineers spend three to four months with mentors.

“We want them to know they have the backing of the full resources of the company,” FTS spokeswoman Pam Percival said.

That kind of attention could mean the difference for companies trying to attract or keep a generation of workers noted for wanting to know what’s in it for them, Hickman said.

“Some companies have the capacity to make changes and make those adjustments,” he said. “Others might realize it, but they’re unwilling or unable to make the cultural shift.”

To see more articles like this please visit Transfac.com
Article Source: Conti, D. (2014). Oil, gas industry tries to keep talent in pipeline. Triblive.com. Retrieved from http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6996455-74/industry-engineers-gas#axzz3J4O59Buw

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Report: Without The Fracking Boom, Oil Would Be At $150 Per Barrel

By Michael Bastasch

The price of oil fell from about $100 per barrel to $80 per barrel in a matter of months, bringing with it lower gasoline prices for drivers and a modest boost to the economy ahead of the holiday season.

This is all thanks to the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling in the U.S., without which gasoline prices would be nearly one dollar higher and oil would cost as much as $150 a barrel, according to a recent report.

Energy experts at ICF International estimate that “international Brent crude oil prices would have averaged $122 to $150 per barrel in 2013” without the massive increases in oil production from fracking. Instead, oil prices have fallen to around $80 per barrel and are projected to fall even further — maybe even to $60 per barrel.

“Given the international nature of U.S. petroleum product movements, ICF also estimates that 2013 U.S. petroleum product prices were between $0.29 and $0.94 per gallon lower than they would have otherwise been without” fracking, ICF reports.

“This reduction in petroleum product prices have saved U.S. consumers an estimated $63 to $248 billion in 2013 and estimated cumulative savings of between $165 and $624 billion from 2008 to 2013,” ICF notes in its report that was prepared for the American Petroleum Institute — the country’s main oil and gas lobbying group.

Fracking is a well-stimulation process in which water, sand and some chemicals are injected into shale formations deep underground to extract oil and natural gas. This practice, combined with horizontal drilling has revolutionized the U.S. oil and gas industry and put the country on the path to be the world’s largest oil and gas producer.

To see more articles like this please visit Transfac.com

Article Source: Bastasch, M. (2014). Report: Without The Fracking Boom, Oil Would Be At $150 Per Barrel. Dailycaller.com. Retrieved from http://dailycaller.com/2014/11/24/report-without-the-fracking-boom-oil-would-be-at-150-per-barrel/

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Ohio Anti-Fracking Activists Want to Delay First Responders from Receiving Important Information

By Jackie Stewart

Back in October of 2013, Energy In Depth reported on how anti-fracking activists in Ohio were trying to slow down first responders with added bureaucracy, based on dubious assumptions about regulatory exemptions. In that report, we discussed how disastrous it could be if first responders were sent back to the stone ages by being forced to add layers of bureaucracy by having to leaf through paper records to gain access to important information required under the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA).

Since our report, there has been a lot of activity going on regarding this matter, as it is clear that this antiquated system of paper reporting is a nightmare. This past weekend, the Columbus Dispatch wrote a story regarding this subject matter entitled “Bill alters reporting of fracking chemicals in Ohio.”

The article alleges that the way companies report hydraulic fracturing chemicals would be changed under new provision of recently passed HB 490. First and foremost, EPCRA is not specific to just the oil and gas industry. Second, the way in which the information is being captured via the online system is the same system that first responders in Ohio have been using since 2001. The environmental activists wanted to see that system changed to a paper system, and they were sorely disappointed to learn that, under U.S. EPA guidelines, the states were given flexibility to capture that information the way they see fit. So what we are seeing here is not only a misrepresentation of facts, but a good old fashioned case of sour grapes by the anti-fracking community. As a point of fact, Ohio is leading the way not only by complying with federal statute, but getting ahead of the curve with HB 490, which includes guidelines that provide more transparency and timely access to information through a web based system.  But don’t take my word for it; take a look at the history of this issue and the facts to debunk the misleading claims found in the above article.

As a reminder, Congress passed EPCRA as a means of supporting local emergency planners and responders with information concerning potential chemical hazards present in their communities. It’s important to note that the individual states were given the flexibility to implement EPCRA in a manner that would best suit them. This issue of jurisdiction — if the states have the authority verses the federal government, and the issue of how information is captured — through an outdated paper system or via a website, is really the heart of the most recent discussion.  Ohio activists would like you to believe that the state does not have the jurisdiction regarding the implementation of the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act, prolonging an ongoing effort to have the federal government completely regulate every aspect of hydraulic fracturing.

However, the facts simply do not support their attempts to mislead the public. For example, on July 13, 2010  the EPA published guidelines, which outlined various reporting options available to them. One of those options included the state’s choice to use the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) or Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) and the local fire departments’ joint access to information outlined in federal statute under EPCRA. In short, federal law says that Ohio can use SERC so long as it meets EPCRA requirements. How that information is obtained, paper reporting or through a website, is a moot point. As a reminder, what Ohio did back in 2001 through House Bill 94, revolutionized the filing requirements and streamlined the process by utilizing a website. This was cutting edge at the time, and still is to this day.

Recently the Ohio statehouse decided to dive into this issue again, beefing up this existing web based system and further ensuring that our first responders are given the information they need. This is yet another example of Ohio continuing to lead in regulatory reforms as the development of oil and natural gas continues. HB 490, 1509.231 which was recently passed, includes information on this matter. In it, we see specific language which states that the information submitted through the online database will:

Ensure that the information submitted for the database will be made immediately available to the emergency response commission, the local emergency planning committee of the emergency planning district in which a facility is located, and the fire department having jurisdiction over a facility; (3) Ensure that the information submitted for the database includes the information required to be reported under section 3750.08 of the Revised Code and rules adopted under section 3750.02 of the Revised Code. (C) As used in this section, “emergency planning district,” “facility,” and “fire department” have the same meanings as in section 3750.01 of the Revised Code.

It is very clear that in Ohio, the metrics by which we adhere to federal statute are more efficient and effective with regard to chemical disclosure and access to information in emergency situations. The anti-development groups either have not read the EPA guidelines, or simply want to mislead the public about clear statutory obligations and provisions. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources continues to do its part by not only maintaining records and a system that has worked for first responders for the past 13 years, but through HB 490 we see the agency trying to improve upon the database by continuing to provide information quickly to emergency personnel to protect the health and safety of our communities.

The website is real time and accessible, which is exactly why the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association wrote a letter supporting the online system. If the health and safety were of first priority for these activists groups, they would not be opposing the passage of HB 490, but instead encouraging these proactive measures by ODNR to move forward through the statehouse process.

To see more articles like this please visit Transfac.com

Article Source: Stewart, J. (2014). Ohio anti-fracking activists want to delay first responders from receiving important information. Energyindepth.com. Retrieved from http://energyindepth.org/ohio/ohio-anti-fracking-activists-want-to-delay-first-responders-from-receiving-important-information/

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Shale academy ready to graduate oil and gas workers

By Greta Mittereder

SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – The Utica Shale Academy, located inside Southern Local Schools, held a special demonstration Tuesday for students and board members.

Austin Sadler, 17, is the only senior in the academy. He hasn’t wasted any time obtaining three certifications needed to get a job in the oil and gas industry after graduation.

Sadler said he has learned how to case a well, install pipe and tubing and understands how gas and oil is extracted from the ground. The first certification he received was for safety, called the Rig Pass.

“It allows me to be safely on any rig. I can be on a rig and know what I am doing and what not to do,” Sadler said.

Utica Shale Academy Director Eric Sampson said there are three certifications the students can receive. The Rig Pass, which is for safety; Drilling Instructors Training (DIT); and Well Controlled Certification.

“All of these are IDAC certified courses with the International Association of Drilling Contractors,” Sampson said.

The students have been working through modules and learning about the industry. Some of the work is done online and guest speakers are brought in to relay first-hand experiences from the field. Other work is supplemented with hands-on course material from the Ohio Oil and Gas Education Energy Program.

An advisory board will be set up to give the academy more insight into the oil and gas industry and prepare for changes in the job market.

“The advisory board is here to say here is what we have produced thus far. But as the job market evolves and different skills are needed, we want to make sure that our curriculum still matches the jobs that are available to the students,” said Chuck Kokiko, Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

Brian Logue, a representative for Express Energy, conducted a demonstration for the boards of Jefferson County EDs, which sponsors the academy, and the Southern Local Schools.

“He has set up rig tours for us. This is the third time he has come in to do a presentation to our students,” Sampson said.

Kokiko said the industry is still in the drilling stage and that will level off as gas companies reach production levels, but he says the ancillary and support jobs will be in the area indefinitely.

To see more articles like this please visit Transfac.com

Article Source: Mittereder, G. (2014). Shale academy ready to graduate oil and gas workers. wkbn.com. Retrieved from http://wkbn.com/2014/11/18/shale-academy-ready-to-graduate-oil-and-gas-workers/

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Energy Saves the Day

By Pete Sapp

In Washington, nothing plays better than a good narrative. And for opponents of traditional energy, no yarn has gotten more mileage than “Big Oil versus middle-class America.” It’s reached emblematic, near-parable status among some politicians – that oil and natural gas producers (the modern-day Goliath) overshadow and intimidate hapless consumers who cry out for a David (naturally, those same politicians) to save them. The trouble is, in this case, the narrative is no parable, and it certainly has nothing to do with the Bible; instead, it is just another self-serving myth.

In reality, the United States’ energy revolution over the past decade is a success story of everyday, hard-working Americans. As the country has shifted into the position of a global energy leader almost solely on the shoulders of remarkable shale development, every layer of the economy has emerged the winner – especially small- and medium-size businesses.

This month, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council released a report titled the “Benefits of Natural Gas Production and Exports for U.S. Small Businesses: Nationally and Key States.” The findings indicate that while much of the economy was reeling from the turbulent downturn following 2008, increased natural gas production has been bolstering growth, especially among small businesses.

Between 2005 and 2012, the U.S. economy lost, on a net basis, more than 378,000 jobs across all sectors. During the same time, energy production and the industries that directly support it created more than 293,000 positions. And that doesn’t include the ripple effect that reached even further – the jobs created in other segments of the economy because of increased demand for goods and services in non-energy industries. Also, lower energy overhead can free up resources that businesses can use for hiring.

Those gains were very often realized among America’s small and midsize businesses, for which elected officials constantly express great concern. It’s not often recognized, but smaller enterprises comprise much of the country’s energy structure. From 2005 to 2011, more than 95 percent of the companies in the five vital energy industries examined in the report – drilling, extraction, construction and infrastructure, operational support and equipment manufacturing – employed 500 or fewer workers.

To break it down even further over the same period, consider that the number of operational support businesses, the men and women contracted to oversee production in the field, increased by more than 30 percent, including 29 percent growth among firms with fewer than 20 workers. Similarly, the number of very small energy construction companies saw a jump of more than 12 percent, while “micro” equipment and machinery manufacturers experienced nearly 15 percent growth.

Such important growth is far from over, and in fact, Washington has the opportunity to ratchet it up even further. Today, the United States is the leading producer of natural gas, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia. Last year domestic production topped 25 trillion cubic feet, a 35 percent increase over 2005, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration anticipates an additional 56 percent increase by 2040.

As a result of this abundance, energy prices have fallen significantly, providing a boon to manufacturers, homeowners and consumers in the form of lower heating and electrical costs. That competitive advantage has given a leg up to U.S. companies. Earlier this year the Federal Reserve found affordable natural gas prices have boosted manufacturing by 3 percent and job creation by 2 percent since 2006. Likewise, the International Monetary Fund estimates cheaper energy prices led to a 6 percent increase in manufacturing exports. By comparison, the International Energy Agency predicts Europe, where prices remain high, will lose a full third of its share of energy-intensive exports within the next 20 years.

Yet for all that natural gas development is doing here at home, there are opportunities for the United States to capitalize on our position even more by exporting some our resources to energy-hungry allies overseas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that under all scenarios – whether we export a little or a lot – “the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits from allowing LNG [liquefied natural gas, the shippable form] exports.” And with U.S. prices running between a quarter and a third of those in Asia and Europe, it is in our country’s best interest to open our abundant resources to the global market.

Expediting the approval process of LNG export applications will introduce greater demand and thereby additional production, meaning more jobs, more investment, more state and local revenues from greater business activity and more economic development. And just as importantly, analysis shows we can do so without negatively disturbing prices here at home. In fact, market economics naturally put a cap on upward price mobility so U.S. businesses reliant on natural gas won’t see their bills soar.

Across the United States, individuals of all walks of life have benefited from America’s natural gas renaissance whether they recognize it or not. We have the potential to do even more and sustain that growth well into the future through natural gas exports. Now, that’s a story Washington should be telling.

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Article Source: Sapp, P (2014). Energy Saves the Day. US News. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2014/11/24/us-natural-gas-renaissance-is-a-boon-for-the-economy-jobs

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Oil refinery

Moab energy company testing fracking method near Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands

By Brian Maffly

A Moab energy company is testing a novel method of fracking at its booming oil field outside Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park.

The experimental extraction method — injecting oil rather than chemical-laden water underground — has shaken environmentalists already worried about the industrialization of a scenic area.

Fidelity Exploration and Production Co.’s wells on Big Flat have been among the nation’s most productive in 2012. But more recently drilled bores haven’t been yielding as much crude lately.

So last week, the company injected fluids in a well near Dead Horse Point in hopes of “stimulating” its outflow, according to Fidelity officials.

The hydrocarbon formation outside Moab, known as Paradox Basin, contains naturally occurring fissures that can be damaged by water, according to company spokesman Tim Rasmussen.

“We needed to find a fluid that would not damage the reservoir while at the same time being environmentally benign,” he said.

With fracking, fluids are pumped under extreme pressure into sandstone formations to force fissures that allow trapped oil and gas to flow into the well bore. The technique is credited with spurring a boom in domestic oil and natural gas production and subsequently declining prices.

But the process is fraught with controversy. Critics say fracking is not adequately regulated as companies inject vast amounts of chemical-laden fluids that could contaminate groundwater.

Fidelity’s engineers settled on a 2,200-barrel mixture of crude from the well itself and food-grade oil — a far smaller volume than is usually used in a water-based fracking operation.

Still, environmentalists say public land managers should study the impact of oil fracking before the company goes any further.

Local activist Bill Love is concerned fracking fluids could escape the well bore and migrate toward the two major rivers that pass through the area’s two national parks and two national recreation areas and provide water for millions.

“BLM has not done a study. The National Park Service needs to have a study,” said Love, who co-founded the Canyon Country Coalition for Pipeline Safety.

Drilling started on Big Flat in the early 1960s, but it wasn’t until Fidelity took over the Cane Creek unit in the late 2000s that wells there became a commercial success — without the help of a single fracking system or even a pump jack in many cases.

Rasmussen said past operators have fracked the Paradox formation, but without success.

Fidelity’s newly fracked well was completed last spring. Monthly production started with 4,144 barrels in April and steeply tapered to 1,165 barrels by September, according to state records.

The well descends 7,500 vertical feet into the oil reservoir then bends 90 degrees and travels laterally in a northeasterly direction for another 5,000 feet through the reservoir.

Fidelity injected the oil only in the toe of that horizontal leg, the half farthest from the vertical bore.

The well will remain shut in while it stabilizes, then it will be “flowed back.”

“Initial flow-back rates will be controlled and monitored,” Rasmussen said. “These rates will be compared to production before the treatment to determine the effectiveness of the experimental design.”

If production improves, Fidelity may try the technique elsewhere on Big Flat.

“We do not believe that the Big Flat wells are good candidates for traditional massive fracture treatments,” Rasmussen said. “The purpose of this stimulation is different and, if successful, could result in better recovery from our existing wells.”

Fracking with water would leave a much larger footprint than what Fidelity is pursuing, the company maintains. It takes at least 1 million gallons of water, often loaded with diesel, methanol, surfactants, gelling agents and other chemicals, to frack a well.

Water is scarce in Grand County and places to dispose of spent fracking water are even scarcer.

Rasmussen said the frack oil can be recovered and sold, therefore the operation won’t deplete local water supplies nor pose a disposal burden.

But local environmentalists remain concerned about the lack of an environmental analysis of the operation and the possibility of fracking fluids fouling groundwater.

Most of the 100-square-mile oil field is on federal land checkerboarded with state sections. The fracked well, known as Cane Creek 32-1, is on state land and could be fracked without Bureau of Land Management approval.

The state Division of Oil, Gas and Mining reviewed Fidelity’s plan and signed off on it, agency spokesman Jim Stringer said.

Wells are fracked daily elsewhere in Utah. But Big Flat is different. It’s located at the doorstep of cherished pristine lands, including Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky, on a plateau 2,000 feet above the Colorado and Green rivers.

Moab activist Love notes two “beautiful” springs are in the area — one in Hell Roaring Canyon and another outside Upheaval Dome.

“They have not taken baseline samples from the springs,” Love said.

Love’s group already is grappling with Fidelity over a network of pipelines the BLM has approved to move copious volumes of natural gas that come up with the oil and are flared at the wellheads.

At least 18 wells are producing oil on Big Flat and Fidelity drills non-stop there. BLM predicts another 50 wells are on the way.

Fidelity’s parent, MDU Resources Group, recently announced plans to sell the company that has been spending heavily on Big Flat. Despite a $150 million investment this year, daily production has inched up just 5 percent to 2,400 barrels, according to its most recent financial disclosure to investors.

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Article Source: Maffly, B. (2014). Moab energy company testing fracking method near Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands. Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sltrib.com/news/1856286-155/moab-energy-company-testing-fracking-method?fullpage=1

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Rail Shipments Of Oil And Petroleum Continue To Rise

According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. rail traffic, including carloadings of all commodity types, has increased 4.5 percent through October 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. Crude oil and petroleum products had the second-biggest increase in carloadings through the first 10 months of this year, with these shipments occurring in parts of the country where there is also strong demand to move coal and grain by rail. In response to shipper concerns over the slow movement of crude oil, coal, grain, ethanol, and propane, federal regulators are closely tracking service among the major U.S. freight railroad companies.

Rail carloadings of oil and petroleum products totaled 672,118 tank cars during January-October 2014, 13.4 percent higher than the same period last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Rising U.S. crude oil production, particularly in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation, where pipeline takeaway capacity is limited in moving the state’s growing oil volumes to market, is one of the main reasons for this increase in rail shipments of petroleum and petroleum products.

Rail shipments of coal were up a relatively small 0.3 percent during the same period, but coal is still by far the largest commodity volume moved by rail, with 4.9 million carloadings. Power plant operators are seeking more coal deliveries by rail to rebuild their coal stockpiles, which were drawn down during last winter’s colder-than-normal weather. Rail also moves U.S. coal to various points for export. At the national level, coal exports were down nearly 16 percent during the first half of this year, but coal exports from the Seattle Customs District (mostly sourced from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin) were up 2.4 percent during the first half of 2014.

Increased movement of grain represents the biggest commodity increase in rail traffic so far this year, up about 15 percent to 878,824 carloadings, according to AAR. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts a record harvest of corn and soybean crops this year. Harvesting of these crops is well underway in the major growing areas in the northern Great Plains states, according to USDA’s crop progress reports.

On October 22, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board (STB) began requiring major freight rail carriers to file weekly updates on their service performance in delivering goods and commodities. These filings will lead to a better understanding of commodity movements by rail and the potential issues associated with increased demand from multiple types of commodities.

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Article Source: Author Unknown. (2014). Rail Shipments Of Oil And Petroleum Continue To Rise. Chem.info. Retrieved from http://www.chem.info/news/2014/11/rail-shipments-oil-and-petroleum-continue-rise

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EV Energy Partners wants to sell off Utica assets in January

By Bob Downing

Texas-based EV Energy Partners is preparing to sell off its Utica shale assets in eastern Ohio in 2015, along with its interest in processing facilities.

There has been “enough drilling activity and consistent result to de-risk our assets and acreage,” said John Walker, the company’s executive chairman.

The value of the company’s Utica shale leases have grown significantly, he said in an earnings call with analysts and the media earlier this week.

The company intends to kick off a serious sale effort in January to sell off its joint venture acreage with Chesapeake Energy and Total SA in 10 Ohio counties, plus other leases held by the company, he said.

The company wants to sell about 120,000 acres within the 660,000-acre joint venture. That includes about 55,000 acres in Carroll County.

It also intends to seek a buyer for its 21 percent interest in Utica East Ohio that operates natural gas processing plants in Columbiana and Carroll counties and a liquids-separating plant in Harrison County.

Last month, EV Energy Partners sold its 9 percent interest in Ohio’s Cardinal Gas Services to two South Korean companies for $162 million.

EV Energy Partners, a publicly traded company that is part of privately held EnerVest Ltd., has said for some time that it intends to sell off Utica assets to monetize the holdings for its institutional investors. The company has been marketing about 335,000 acres in Ohio since 2013.

The EnerVest companies are one of Ohio’s largest oil and gas companies with 8,700 vertical wells in Ohio. They were the largest producer from traditional gas and oil wells in Ohio and generated 25 percent of Ohio’s natural gas prior to the Utica shale boom. They control about 900,000 acres in Ohio.

In other news, EV Energy Partners said production could begin in December on a much-watched Utica oil well in Tuscarawas County.

The company drilled the experimental well with eight other industry partners, Walker said.

“This is a test of what could be EnerVest and EVEP’s most valuable asset in the Utica,” he said.

Getting oil from the Utica shale has proven to be difficult for drillers, to date.

That well near Uhrichsville is being hydraulically fractured or fracked with liquid butane and mineral oil. That should be completed in two weeks.

“We’re excited but cautious as we are bringing new technology to bear in this process,” said company president and CEO Mark Houser. “We are in the middle of the completion operations and have completed five of the 20 (fracking) stages so far.”

A full review of the well will be offered in the next few months, he said.

The oil window covers all or parts of Portage, Stark, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Holmes, Coshocton, Guernsey, Muskingum, Perry, Morgan, Athens, Vinton and Hocking counties.

EV Energy Partners is also getting about 80 barrels of oil per day plus natural gas from four Stark County horizontal wells that were drilled into the shallow Clinton sandstone. A fifth well is not yet in production.

Drilling each well costs about $2.6 million. Each well is projected to produce about 150,000 barrels of oil equivalents. The wells could generate 20 percent return on its investment at $80 per barrel for crude oil.

The company said the East Canton oil field where more than 4,000 wells have been drilled since 1947 has an estimated 1.5 billion barrels of oil and only 7 percent has been recovered.

The field in Stark, Carroll and Tuscarawas counties covers about 214,000 acres and EnerVest companies control half of it, the company said.

It says it has identified 70 potential drilling sites and that number could grow if the wells are successful, Houser said.

The company is “very pleased” with the initial Clinton results, he said.

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Article Source: Downing, B. (2014). EV Energy Partners wants to sell off Utica assets in January. Ohio.com. Retrieved from http://www.ohio.com/blogs/drilling/ohio-utica-shale-1.291290/ev-energy-partners-wants-to-sell-off-utica-assets-in-january-1.540174

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oil worker

Shell Execs Update Public on Its Cracker Plant Project

By Dan O’Brien

MIDLAND, Pa. – In about 30 days, Shell Chemicals should announce that it’s ready to begin remediation work on more than 540 acres in order to prepare the land for its proposed multibillion-dollar ethane cracker plant here.

“That’s part of the permitting process in Pennsylvania,” said Randy Armstrong, Shell’s senior environmental adviser. “You’re required to give a notice to the public that the process is starting. I think we’ll be ready within the next 30 days.”

Last week, Shell Chemicals, a division of energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, exercised its option to purchase the former Horsehead industrial property along the Ohio River in Monaca, Pa., its preferred site for the plant.

The build site encompasses 546 acres just off Interstate 376 along the Ohio River.

It’s estimated that Shell could invest between $2 billion and $4 billion to construct the plant, create 400 permanent jobs and more than 6,000 temporary jobs during the construction phase.

Still, Shell has not made a final decision as to whether it will move forward with the project, Armstrong cautioned, and there is no timetable for making such a decision.

“It is a process that we go through,” he said. “We passed a key milestone last week, and that property purchase was required to get one of the permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state,” he clarified. “That doesn’t mean we’re coming.”

Many other variables need to fall in place including design, permits, overall development plans, remediation plans and construction plans, and negotiations with the state and local communities, Armstrong said.

“One of the key things I’m working on is getting the environmental permits,” he said. “We’re continuing down that process of doing everything you would need to do to be ready to build this facility.”

Armstrong and other Shell representatives participated in a panel discussion Thursday morning at the Lincoln Performing Arts Center in Midland, where about 200 residents gathered to hear specialists address questions related to the environmental impact of the plant. Another informational meeting took place last night.

The company wants to collect input from the community and in turn provide them information about the proposed “cracker” plant. If built, the processing facility would manufacture polyethylene pellets from ethane gas pumped from the Utica and Marcellus shale plays in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

These polyethylene pellets — the largest mass-produced plastic in the world — provide the basic ingredients for countless products ranging from plastic bags to automotive components. “We want to be a part of that market,” Armstrong said.

Todd Wittemore, the lead on Shell’s process-design and operations team, said work has started at the site, and several buildings have been torn down in order to prepare it for remediation. “The site is almost clear now, and we’re at the phase where we can actually start building the site as opposed to deconstructing the site,” he said.

Most of the public discussion centered on the plant’s impact on water and wildlife in the area. Once operating at full capacity, Wittemore said the ethane cracker would use about 20 million gallons of water a day from the Ohio River. This water would be recycled through the system to produce steam, which would generate heat to the entire process.

Armstrong said water treatment, monitoring and testing would be ongoing throughout the construction process, while a plan on how to cap over and remediate the brownfield site would need to be prepared.

Other modifications such as storm water management through the use of culverts, retention ponds, and sewage control with nearby municipalities would also be put in place.

Wildlife such as osprey that have nested atop of high-voltage transmission towers would be protected, and a plan developed to consider accommodating eagles that have returned to the area, Armstrong noted.

The Monaca location proved logical, he said, since it included 146 acres of flat land, which is valuable in this hilly region of Pennsylvania.

For many of those attending the public meeting, Shell’s project is reminiscent of other large-scale projects developed in western Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio since energy companies started prospecting oil and gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale plays.

Joseph Pertaconi, a project engineer from Bristolville who was part of the team that constructed Vallourec Star’s $1 billion plant in Youngstown, said a Shell cracker would be and exciting jolt for the entire region.

“Shell’s presence here is going to have a major impact — not just to the local area in Beaver County — but also throughout West Virginia and southeast Ohio,” he said.” It’s exciting to be a part of this.”

Pertaconi said the process that Shell is moving through reminds him of the same process that Vallourec pursued when it constructed the new Youngstown mill.

“It was a seven-year process before we put a shovel into the ground, and I think that’s where we are right now — the due diligence, the demolition, the permit process,” he noted. “This is a great opportunity.”

Moreover, support businesses and industries are likely to follow should Shell construct the plant, added Beaver County Commissioner Dennis Nichols.

“The economic impact can’t be overstated,” he said. A study conducted by the Pennsylvania Economy League found that total job creation as a result of the plant could number 18,000 positions across the tri-state area.

These jobs would be tied to service businesses such as hotels and restaurants, related companies in the petrochemical markets, manufacturers, and suppliers, Nichols said.

“The numbers I’ve heard is it could have a $4.5 billion a year input into the local economy.”

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Article Source: O’Brien, D. (2014). Shell execs update public on its cracker plant project. Business Journal Daily. Retrieved from http://businessjournaldaily.com/drilling-down/shell-execs-update-public-its-cracker-plant-project-2014-11-14

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