Students from four northern tier counties recently took part in the first Energy & Oilfield Career Summer Experience, learning about career opportunities in the natural gas industry and visiting active gas sites, in addition to participating in discussions held at the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum and Natural Gas (LC School of PNG) in New Milford. The three-day program was coordinated by the Northern Tier Industrial & Education Consortium (NTIEC) and sponsored by several industry partners.
“The gas camp provided the students exactly the type of information needed to be informed career consumers,” related NTIEC educational consultant Colin Furneaux. “By the third day, they knew what the various jobs entailed and the best pathways to seek employment.” Students were apprised of the basics of geology, electronics, engines and compression, production communication and PNG safety guidelines before heading out into the field on their second day of energy camp.
“I was impressed by how much engineering and computer science is involved,” Northeast Bradford freshman Josh Keeney said of the classes while touring a gas pad. His science teacher, Micah Russell, encouraged him to participate in the program, and his father, William Keeney, serves as the chief environmental inspector for Williams. Locations visited included active Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation construction and drilling sites and a completed well pad, as well as one of Williams largest compressor stations.
“Students had classroom instruction and participated in a field trip to gas sites in different stages of production,” NTIEC educational coordinator Deb Tierney explained, adding that the students were afforded an amazing opportunity to talk to the workers at the various facilities.
The first stop was the Abbott Pad near New Milford, where GDS Construction was doing a lot of earthmoving and putting into place erosion and sediment control measures. Bill desRosiers, External Affairs Manager for Cabot, noted that United Drilling was also on-site using an auger and air rigs to prepare the first 100- to 200-feet prior to the drilling of a new gas well.
“Very few people ever get to see that,” desRosiers explained. In very close proximity, he added, Williams was installing a new pipeline, and workers paused long enough to show the students some fossils that their crews had unearthed. At the Molnar Pad near Hop Bottom, program participants got a
rare look inside the control room known as the “dog house” and also got to see rig hands add a new length of pipe above the active drill bit.
At the Potter Compression Station near Kingsley, Nate Krebbs hosted the tour of the facility, explaining how the massive maze of equipment increases the pressure of gas coming into the station from 400 pounds per square inch (psi) to 1,200 psi while also removing all of the liquids and impurities. He and Williams’ community outreach assistant Tammy Bonnice also talked with the guests about the variety of opportunities that await graduates from the Lackawanna Collge School of Petroleum & Natural Gas, of which Krebs and one of Bonnice’s sons are graduates.
“You can go so many different ways in this industry,” Krebs told the students, noting that his internship was in gas production, but he has found working as an operation technician at a compressor station more satisfying.
“Maybe you are into the environmental end of it, land and forestry, or safety,” Bonnice offered as alternatives. “Keep your mind open and think outside the box.”
A debriefing of the gas sites was conducted first thing on the final morning at the LC School of PNG prior to a comprehensive overview of PNG careers offered by LC School of PNG Center Coordinator Marianne Orlandini and internship coordinator Betty Seelenbrandt.
“This program has given me a better understanding of the opportunities and the schooling needed for some of these jobs,” Tunkhannock junior Jacob Perez wrote in his exit survey.
“I learned a lot more than I knew, and it seems like a great industry to get into,” Scranton Prep senior Blaize Whitehead remarked. Orlandini cited the collaboration between the School of PNG and the NTIEC as unique and vital to providing high school students with opportunities to explore potential careers and get a first-hand glimpse into the natural gas industry. “Moving forward, we hope to increase the number of participants and run a very similar program next year for interested students,” Orlandini remarked. “With a need for skilled employees, the School of Petroleum & Natural Gas is here and committed to providing the education and training to meet industry needs.”
“I will almost definitely be attending this college after high school,” Mountain View junior Josh McDonald stated. “I have learned so much and I can’t wait to start my career in the gas industry.” Additional participants included Brian Christ and Josh Myers, Tunkhannock; and David Villanella, SCCTC.
For more information on programs offered by the NTIEC, log on to www.ntiec.com. For additional information on the LC School of PNG, check out www.lackawanna.edu.