Appalachian Basin

Electrical Workers See No Shortage in Work Thanks to Shale Development

Communities and companies around the Mahoning Valley are seeing an upswing in electrical work as a result of shale development.  The two locals, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and VEC Inc., are taking advantage of the new infrastructure construction projects for oil and gas development.

Projects like V&M Star’s $650 million pipe mill and the new business coming to Youngstown has created a huge demand for electrical workers.  With the exploration of shale formations in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, Ohio’s steel plants seem like a natural fit to produce their pipes and fittings. Jim Burgham, business manager of IBEW Local 64 in Youngstown described the success the local has seen:

We’ve had full employment since the fall of 2011. We’ve seen improvements in all aspects of work—remodeling of existing buildings, store construction, as well as additional projects—Jim Burgham (Electrical Companies, Workers Wired for Robust Year, 2/21/13)

Next up, workers will be on site for the construction of the $100 million VAM finishing plant at V&M’s Youngstown site.  IBEW is also a part of plans to install the Hickory Bend natural gas processing complex in Springfield Towniship.

With Ohio’s oil and gas development still in its early stages, there will be plenty of work to come.  Apprenticeship programs and training centers are working to prepare a workforce for the growing industry.

Companies in the area are already making agreements for future work.  VEC Inc. and its subsidiary, Evets Oil & Gas, report they recently signed a contract with BP to perform mechanical and electrical work at the well sites after drilling is completed.  Senior Vice President and CEO at VEC, Chris Jaskiewicz explained exactly where the work is coming from:

We come in after they drill. We put the piping in place, the storage tanks, and the automation and controls at the well site—Chris Jaskiewicz  (Electrical Companies, Workers Wired for Robust Year, 2/21/13)

Jaskiewicz said the company has grown tremendously in recent years thanks Utica development, growing from a $4 million a year operation to $26 million in sales last year:

We have about 400 people out in the field, and about 300 are electricians. We hire right out of the union hall based on immediate need— Chris Jaskiewicz (Electrical Companies, Workers Wired for Robust Year, 2/21/13)

Ohio has already supported and created 38,000 jobs thanks to shale development.  With new projects being announced almost weekly, the number is only expected to grow.  A wide range of skills are needed, including electrical work, and Ohio needs to continue to prepare a workforce for the incredible opportunities abound.

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