CSU study predicts Utica Shale will fuel big demand for new jobs

The greatest challenge facing the oil and gas industry isn’t the low price of commodities, it’s demographics.

In the next 5 years or so, baby boomers will retire from the industry, leaving a vacuum of skills and leadership.

To capture new jobs from the anticipated “great crew change,” Ohio needs to educate workers for a range of highly skilled jobs, according to a three-part study released Wednesday by researchers at Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.


Researchers from the college’s Center for Economic Development and Energy Policy Center estimate Utica drilling and production will generate 10,505 full-time jobs in Ohio by 2019; a third of those jobs will require higher education. That’s up from an estimated 7,558 jobs this year.

Additionally, the anticipated investment of $4.7 billion over the next five years in interstate pipelines and natural gas processing plants will generate 5,000 construction jobs a year, according the report.

Companies will continue to use transient workers for well-field development and to build interstate pipelines. Local employment will be in post-production activity, such as the maintenance of wells, pipelines and processing plants, according to the report.

A drop in oil and natural gas prices has slowed drilling, but companies with the best-producing acreage and easiest access to pipelines are in the best position to weather the slump and create future jobs.

“However, the shale resource is not going away, and the industry is here for the long term and will be positioned to benefit at the time when prices rebound,” the researchers wrote.


Building cracker plants in the region would spur even more job growth. Cracker plants turn ethane, a component of natural gas, into ethylene, a chemical used in plastics. Four crackers have been proposed in the Utica and Marcellus shale regions but none have been built.

Constructing an ethane cracker and associated plants would create 7,400 construction jobs and 1,570 supply jobs for every $1 billion spent, according to the report. Crackers cost $5 billion or more.

When completed, a cracker complex would employ about 400 people, and serve as a platform for economic development within the plastics and manufacturing industries, the report said.

The researchers based their estimates on state, industry and company data, information presented at conferences and personal interviews.

The Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy Shale Committee commissioned the study, with support from the Economic Growth Foundation and JobsOhio.

Reach Shane at 330-580-8338 or shane.hoover@cantonrep.com.

On Twitter: @shooverREP

From IndeOnline.com  |  November 18, 2015