Appalachian Basin

Cuomo Delays – New York Residents Leave

Three New York residents have left their home state in search of work.  Their search has brought them to Washington County, Pa., where all three now have good paying jobs in the natural gas industry.  

Recently I received a call from Donald Roessler, who rented one of his properties to three young professionals working in the natural gas industry.  Normally this isn’t anything to write home about, since the natural gas industry provides thousands of jobs to people throughout the United States.  But what’s interesting about these three is that they are from the Southern Tier of New York, where shale development could occur were it not for politics.

If  people leaving New York state in search of work isn’t already a trend, I am sure it is one that will increase as the New York moratorium on hydraulic fracturing stays in place.  This is a true testament that the industry does, in fact, supply not only jobs but good paying jobs — worth relocating to obtain, even.  Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo continues to delay his decision on shale development.

Who They Are

I got in touch with Jorden and Jenna Ohradzanski, and Andrew Benjamin when Roessler, a Washington County, Pa., resident, called and told me there were three people from the Southern Tier of New York renting his house and working in the natural gas industry.  Jorden Ohradzanski is a data document specialist at E.A.R.T.H. Acquisition, Inc.  Jenna Ohradzanski works for Precision Pipeline LLC.  And, lastly, Andrew Benjamin is studying  to be petroleum engineer and is now working on a co-op project just north of Pittsburgh.

Washington County, Pennsylvania

Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Before leaving New York, the Ohradzanski sisters lived in Hammondsport, located in the wine region of New York state, on Keuka Lake.  Something we hear quite often from those opposed to shale gas exploration in New York is that the Finger Lake wine region provides enough jobs to upstate New Yorkers, and there is no need for the jobs natural gas development will bring.  It doesn’t look like these former New Yorkers agree with that message.

Likewise, Andrew Benjamin is originally from Horseheads, N.Y., near Elmira and just across the border from the Pennsylvania gas fields.  It’s clear the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania is able to provide jobs not available to those living in New York’s Southern Tier or the Finger Lakes.

Why the Natural Gas Industry?

There are many industries out there to choose for a career, so my question to these three was, why the natural gas industry? Andrew explained:

My father was a land man in New York, he was never in the industry until his 50’s.  My sister rented one of her houses to man from the south who was real big in the industry and he got my dad into it as a land man.  There was a lot more money in this than his other jobs so he loved it.  So, that was the first I had seen of the industry, how well it paid and how big it was.

That intrigued me to get into the industry because I wanted to be where the money was.  This pushed me to get into Petroleum engineering which eventually took me to West Virginia University because of the programs.

My thought was that after I graduated, four years later New York would have opened up to the industry.  It would have been nice to move back and be there right as business was booming. – Andrew Benjamin (6:10)

These three former New Yorkers offer a testament that there are not enough good paying jobs in the Southern Tier of New York to accommodate college graduates, especially women, as Jorden outlined:

Our mother was in the industry for years just over the border in Bardford County, that was how we got involved ourselves.  It would be nice if these types of jobs were available in New York.

When I first started working in the industry the office that I worked out of was located is Owego, New York.  So I had to drive an hour and a half to Owego and back everyday.

I was driving three hours a day just to and from work.   It was definitely worth the drive though. – Jorden Ohradzanski  (4:30)

Below is the full interview –

These three left us with one last piece of advice for anyone looking to get involved with the natural gas industry –

The first thing to figure out for anyone is what part of the industry they want to work in.  Also, it depends on how close you are to the Pennsylvania border.  Being out here in Southwest Pennsylvania, it wasn’t hard to find a job, there are job openings everywhere.  (9:39)

Governor Cuomo, as noted above, continues to delay his verdict on hydraulic fracturing with no apparent regard for the needs of his constituents. Given how long it’s taking, there’s a good possibility there won’t be anyone left to hear his decision.  Now wouldn’t that be ironic?  I guess they refer to Cuomo as “Hamlet on the Hudson” for good reason.

For more information on how to find work in the natural gas industry visit our job page here.


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