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Q&A:?Organization works to educate, train workers for oil, gas industry

April 2, 2012
The Marietta Times

Rhonda Reda is executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program. The office does everything from economic impact studies, workforce training, emergency training and is responsible for providing scholarships in schools.

Reda noted the organization is not engaged in any public policy or lobbying efforts. She has been working with oil and gas related issues for 25 years.

Q: There is some concern that the coming oil and gas boom will turn out like the short-lived boom and bust years of the mid to late 1800s. Will this last?

A: We've had other booms in the past, too-some as recent as the 1960s and 70s. We've been producing oil and gas for 150 years, and whether they were boom or bust years often followed the commodity prices.

But the coming boom is not something that will end soon. Investments of millions are being put into processing plants by oil and gas companies.

A recent study indicates about $34 billion is being invested in Ohio by oil and gas industries. Companies are not investing at this level for the short term.

Q: There seems to be a lot of activity in shale oil and gas at this time. What's going on?

A: Right now there are over 64,000 active wells in the state of Ohio. Companies are currently drilling and producing out of more than 30 different geologic formations. And they're going to continue to explore and drill in those formations.

People are most excited now about two shale formations. One is the Marcellus, which there is not much of in Ohio. Primarily dry or natural gas is coming out of that formation.

But the Utica shale in Ohio lies below the Marcellus and we now know the Utica is the source rock for many of the other geological formations that contain oil and gas.

More specifically, the Point Pleasant section of the Utica formation is the "sweet spot" for natural and wet gas and crude oil.

Crude oil production will significantly increase over the next few years in this country, and the wet gas can be processed into butane, propane, ethane and methane.

The local Utica formations are now in a leasing, exploration phase in Southeast Ohio.

Q: How long do completed wells produce?

A: There are wells in Southeast Ohio that have produced for 80 years-although not always in huge quantities. Typically wells have 20 to 25 years of production, then they must be re-drilled.

Q: How many jobs are anticipated to result from this activity?

A: Our recent study estimates there will be about 200,000 oil and gas related jobs in Ohio by 2015.

But we don't currently have the skilled laborers out there, including diesel mechanics, welders, and CDL drivers. There's a big void in that kind of training, and we're working with schools like the Washington County Career Center and Washington State Community College to bring that skilled workforce training back.

These jobs will offer very competitive salaries, but that workforce needs to be in place soon.

Sam Shawver conducted this interview.



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