Shale academy ready to graduate oil and gas workers

SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – The Utica Shale Academy, located inside Southern Local Schools, held a special demonstration Tuesday for students and board members.

Austin Sadler, 17, is the only senior in the academy. He hasn’t wasted any time obtaining three certifications needed to get a job in the oil and gas industry after graduation.

Sadler said he has learned how to case a well, install pipe and tubing and understands how gas and oil is extracted from the ground. The first certification he received was for safety, called the Rig Pass.

“It allows me to be safely on any rig. I can be on a rig and know what I am doing and what not to do,” Sadler said.

Utica Shale Academy Director Eric Sampson said there are three certifications the students can receive. The Rig Pass, which is for safety; Drilling Instructors Training (DIT); and Well Controlled Certification.

“All of these are IDAC certified courses with the International Association of Drilling Contractors,” Sampson said.

The students have been working through modules and learning about the industry. Some of the work is done online and guest speakers are brought in to relay first-hand experiences from the field. Other work is supplemented with hands-on course material from the Ohio Oil and Gas Education Energy Program.

An advisory board will be set up to give the academy more insight into the oil and gas industry and prepare for changes in the job market.

“The advisory board is here to say here is what we have produced thus far. But as the job market evolves and different skills are needed, we want to make sure that our curriculum still matches the jobs that are available to the students,” said Chuck Kokiko, Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

Brian Logue, a representative for Express Energy, conducted a demonstration for the boards of Jefferson County EDs, which sponsors the academy, and the Southern Local Schools.

“He has set up rig tours for us. This is the third time he has come in to do a presentation to our students,” Sampson said.

Kokiko said the industry is still in the drilling stage and that will level off as gas companies reach production levels, but he says the ancillary and support jobs will be in the area indefinitely.

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