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Environment & Energy

Survey: Marcellus Shale Industry Growth Slowing

The Marcellus Shale Industry continues to grow, though at a slower pace than years past. That’s according to the recently-released Annual Workforce Survey from the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Industry companies expect to hire 2,000 workers in 2014, a 50 percent drop from 2013 numbers.

“We’ve seen a reduction in rig count, primarily due to the drop in natural gas prices not only Pennsylvania, but across the country,” said Dave Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, “kind of victims of our own success.”

Of the 2,000 new jobs projected for 2014, nearly 80 percent of them are in southwestern Pennsylvania, whereas growth in the past was booming in the northeastern part of the state.

“The primary focus there is the fact that there’s been continued capital investment into what we call the wet gas, or natural gas liquids region of the commonwealth, and that’s southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Spigelmyer.

Wet gases, such as propane and butane, are more cost-competitive in today’s market, according to Spigelmyer.

The survey found that in 2013, 83 percent of new hires in the industry were from Marcellus/Utica Shale states.

“Nearly 70 percent of our workers are coming out of Pennsylvania and the bulk of our workers are coming out of the Appalachian basin, which is fairly significant change from where we were just five short years ago,” said Spigelmyer. In the past, he said it was hard to find trained workers in this region, so employees were being brought in from the Gulf Coast and other energy-producing areas of the U.S.

Still, with growth comes challenges, and the top three identified in the survey are finding qualified talent, competition and willingness to relocate. The survey also found that the most difficult positions to fill are professional and management positions.

Overall, Spigelmyer said the industry will continue to grow and added that benefits will be seen beyond development sites.

“The real bright spot for the shale industry in Pennsylvania is what I believe is the emerging manufacturing base that is beginning to unfold as a result of affordable supplies of energy,” he said.

The survey includes responses from 60 of the coalition’s 288  member companies.