Commentary: Oil and gas industry bullish on Ohio

January 10, 2021

The Canton Repository. The global pandemic continues to take its toll on Ohio’s economy, as well as that of our nation. Hope, however, is on the horizon as vaccines and improved treatments to combat COVID-19 are being deployed around the state and country.

Despite the pandemic and current market pressures, Ohio’s natural gas and oil industry remains committed to developing these vital resources for the benefit of all Ohioans. We believe we have a very bright future ahead of us and one that will require a diverse, skilled, and committed workforce.

Consider that Ohio is the sixth largest producer of natural gas and 13th largest producer of oil in the nation. Production has grown dramatically in the past decade and is benefitting Ohioans in many ways.

As one example, natural gas has become the primary fuel source for electricity generation in the state. With more than $15 billion in natural gas power plant investments in the past five years, Ohioans are saving money on home heating costs compared to residents in many other states. Additionally, the reliability of electricity produced from natural gas ensures that Ohioans have the energy they need when they need it.

In total, more than $80 billion has been invested in our state over the past decade because of the natural gas and oil industries. This investment includes upstream (well and production development), midstream (pipeline and transportation infrastructure development) and downstream (processing and manufacturing facilities) investments.

This level of significant spending equates to hundreds of thousands of Ohio paychecks.

According to the January 2020 Quarterly Economic Trends for Ohio Oil and Gas Industries Report, workers in core shale-related industries in Ohio earned an average wage of $83,753. This was $32,394 greater than the average wage for all industries in Ohio.  And the average wage in ancillary shale-related industries was $70,456, which was $19,097 higher than the average for all industries.

Our company, Diversified Gas & Oil, is working to create opportunities for Ohioans. We currently employ 1,100 throughout our states of operation with 180 employees in Ohio and we continue to pursue opportunities to enhance and build our talented workforce.

Our business model focuses on maximizing the life of gas and oil wells which allows us to sustain jobs for the hard-working citizens of Ohio. Ohio has 50,000 producing wells across 49 counties. We see plenty of opportunity for growth.

As the current gas and oil industry workforce continues to age, we recognize the critical need to prepare the next generation of workers. The list of jobs and occupations necessary for production operations are vast.

The pre-drilling phase requires leasing agents, environmental technicians, biologists, paralegals, geologists, petroleum engineers, not to mention attorneys, civil engineers, and cartographers.

In the drilling phase, roustabouts – core operators of drilling crews – comprise a large percentage of the workforce. Rig movers and heavy equipment operators are also necessary.

Post-drilling operations require production foremen, well tenders, landscapers, plugging crews and more. And all phases of development require accountants, finance and IT professionals, and other types of administrative positions.

The industry also has a significant need for truck drivers, pipeline workers, welders, and skilled laborers.

In our region, there are multiple programs available for those interested in getting trained, certified, or educated in various industry-related fields. Local colleges and universities offer a variety of programs, to include those at Stark State College, Walsh University, The University of Akron, Marietta College, and Kent State University at Stark and at Tuscarawas.

Local adult education and training providers, like Buckeye Career Center, offer specific certification programs that can lead to jobs upon graduation. Marlington High School, near Alliance, offers a unique two-year oil and gas technologies training program for juniors and seniors.

And the state of Ohio, public and private organizations, and the industry are working hard to coordinate and promote the skills training and job opportunities available in the Buckeye State. The Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program, which can be accessed at www.oogeep.org, is a great resource for those seeking opportunities in the industry.

The history of our industry has deep roots in the state of Ohio. We are bullish on the future of the gas and oil industry in Ohio and the United States, we are privileged to be a part of the energy supply in our country, we are proud of our talented, hardworking Ohio employees and we look forward to helping build the workforce of tomorrow.

Brad Gray serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Diversified Gas & Oil Corporation, which has an office in Canton and other areas of the state.

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