Hundreds Want Gas Drilling Jobs

NEW MARTINSVILLE – Hundreds of residents from throughout the Ohio Valley waited in long lines Wednesday with hopes of landing a job with one of the many natural gas companies actively drilling in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale.

Nine recruiters from Chesapeake Energy, based in Oklahoma City, were on hand Wednesday to talk to job seekers during a six-hour career information open house at the PPG McKenna Shelter.

Men and women with resumes in hand, dressed in everything from construction boots and jeans to business attire, stood on line for two to three hours waiting for the chance to speak with one of the recruiters.

Once inside the building, potential recruits were first screened at the door and asked to give a brief description of their experience, training or certifications. After that, people were divided into one of four lines according to possible opportunities, then interviewed briefly by another recruiter.

Ryan Dean, corporate development coordinator for Chesapeake, said no positions were filled Wednesday, but the company did have several different jobs available for those with minimal experience in the gas and oil industry and those with more specific training.

Dean said positions were possibly available for roustabouts, pumpers, field techs and rig hands, as well as more specialized posts for truck drivers, air equipment operators, field safety representatives, rig mechanics and diesel engine technicians.

For neighbors Shawn Long and Eric Westbrook of Middlebourne, who arrived before 10 a.m. and waited more than an hour to get through the door, the chance for new employment in the Ohio Valley is welcome. Both men said they are certified welders and have experience in mechanics and industrial mills, but they have struggled to keep working due to changes in industry and the economy in the Ohio Valley.

“This is a great opportunity for around here,” said Long. “This (the gas industry) is one of the only things around here. It’s a good thing they (Chesapeake) are here.”

Both Long and Westbrook said many of the industrial jobs with local companies such as Ormet, PPG and Bayer are a thing of the past and simply no longer available.

“You can’t get on at PPG anymore,” said Westbrook. “It’s this or the coal mine. I’ve got two kids and a wife I have to take care of.”

Both men said until about two months ago when they began getting contract jobs at some of the area drilling sites, their prospects were pretty bleak.

“Two months ago, I was hauling junk just to make ends meet,” said Westbrook. “Right now I’m doing stack work at drill sites, but I’m looking for some stability and something permanent for my family.”

“For the first time in 40 years I had to get assistance,” said Long. “And with the contract work, there are no benefits and you don’t know how many hours you will get each week.

“Any new full-time employment in this area is great,” he added.

Dean said he was pleased with the response from the public Wednesday and hopes this is an opportunity to hire more people from the local community.

“We’re thrilled with the turnout today,” said Dean. “When recruiters arrived at about 8 a.m., they said some people were already in the parking lot waiting in their cars. We expected good turnout, but we obviously see we have a large amount of people willing to work in this industry.”

Dean said the open house was organized so job seekers in the area can become more familiar with Chesapeake and its subsidiaries and some of the types of jobs available.

“We are not only hiring for this area, but the entire Eastern Division,” he noted. “This is a good opportunity for applicants to learn what qualifications we are looking for.

“It is also a way we (Chesapeake) can gauge what type of training may be needed in the community” for possible future hiring, Dean said.

Chesapeake Energy currently employs 630 West Virginia residents.