Drilling generates 48,000 jobs
By Joe Napsha, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, June 3, 2011
The boom in Marcellus shale natural-gas exploration and production created 48,000 jobs in Pennsylvania during the past 18 months, says a new state report.
"The numbers are absolutely staggering. We certainly project the jobs will grow as production continues to expand," said Travis Windle, a spokesman for the trade group Marcellus Shale Coalition in Cecil in Washington County.
The state's basic natural-gas exploration and production industries -- along with an extensive supply-chain network and support industry -- created the 48,000 jobs from October 2009 through this March, according to the report by the state Department of Labor and Industry. The total included hiring for 9,000 jobs during the three months ended March 31.
Of the 48,000 new jobs, about 71 percent were filled by Pennsylvania residents, the state said in a separate report.
"We have already seen tens of thousands of new jobs in Pennsylvania from the industry itself, as well as from new industries spawned to support it," state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer said in testimony Thursday before the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus in Washington, D.C.
"These are good-paying jobs in many fields," Krancer said.
The study, the first issued by the state to summarize the impact of the Marcellus shale boom, backs up the wages.
The report shows that the average wage last year for jobs in the basic gas industry was $69,995, while the average wage in support industries -- such as construction, steel and engineering -- was $63,967. That compares with an average wage for all industries in the state of about $45,491.
Total employment in industries connected to Marcellus shale drilling and production was 141,000 workers as of Sept. 30, the state said. The figure represents 2 percent of total state employment.
Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties had about 5,280 jobs created during the 18-month period, most of which were in support industries. During that time, 371 Marcellus shale wells were drilled in those eight counties.
Employment in six basic natural-gas industries -- such as drilling, pipe production, pipeline construction and gas transportation -- increased by almost 94 percent from 2008 to Sept. 30, the report shows.
The 21 support industries -- such as iron and steel mills; water supply; oil and gas machinery equipment manufacturing; site preparation; and environmental services -- had employment increased just 2 percent.
Beaver, Greene and Washington counties had 1,200 new employees hired in the support industries, the highest number in six state regions tracked in the report.
One of the largest gas producers, Range Resources Inc., has 5,000 employees in Western Pennsylvania and could double those numbers in the coming years, spokesman Matt Pitzarella said.
Another large producer in the state, Chesapeake Energy Corp., has 1,341 employees in the state, spokeswoman Jacque Bland said.
Gas industry employers are seeking workers, particularly those with training. Of 12 students who graduated two weeks ago from a training program at Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood, five already have job offers, said Byron Kohut, director of the ShaleNet's Western Hub of training programs.
"We anticipate all of the students will get jobs," as mechanics and roustabouts, Kohut said.
The industry is projected to create 212,000 new jobs by 2020, according to a forecast by Penn State University experts. The forecast is based on natural-gas production of 13 billion cubic feet from more than 3,500 gas wells drilled in 2020, according to their study funded by the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
Job growth, however, depends upon the drilling volume and where the jobs are within the energy sector, said energy expert Kent F. Moors, a Duquesne University professor and director of Duquesne's Energy Policy Research Group.