ShaleNET CueSheet, June 2011
The Marcellus Shale deposit is a layer of shale rock located as far as 9,000 feet below ground, which has long been known to be a reservoir of natural gas. Due to advances in extraction technology that has made the recovery of shale gas deposits both possible and economically viable, natural gas extraction is a rapidly emerging industry in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.
From a global perspective, the Marcellus Shale deposit is a "super giant" gas field that will yield decades of gas production in close proximity to the major population centers of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, thus providing economic opportunity and prosperity for the communities living in its footprint.
The drilling of a single well requires 400 people working in nearly 150 occupations. 47% of a well's workforce consists of jobs that do not require a 4-year degree: general labor (20%), heavy equipment operators (17%), and commercial driver's license on- and off-road truckers (10%).
These positions offer an important opportunity to re-train and assist low-wage, unemployed, and dislocated workers for jobs that have significant career growth opportunity and offer family sustaining wages.
Although the gas industry has clearly stated its preference for a local workforce and is committed to hiring local employees, many gas companies and their drilling contractors are hiring workers from other states. Horizontal/directional drilling is a new phenomenon in the eastern US, and the workforce supply does not equal demand. The gas industry generally prefers to hire from the local workforce when trained and qualified workers are available. ShaleNET hopes to provide the resources to assist in narrowing the demand gap and will address what both the natural gas industry and the local workforce system agree to be the biggest challenge to building a well prepared local workforce for the gas industry: improving pre-employment training and identifying candidates who are compatible for and have a realistic expectation of the natural gas industry.
The ShaleNET grant will develop a recruitment, training, placement, and retention program to help provide the gas industry with a ready and well-trained local workforce for occupations that are in high demand. These "high priority occupations" include derrick operator, rotary drill operator, service unit operator, roustabout, welder/brazer, and commercially licensed drivers.
Though open to everyone, this grant will focus on getting the unemployed, dislocated, underemployed, low-income, youth, and veterans employment in the natural gas industry in jobs with a clear career pathway that offers family sustaining wages.