YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Union leaders with the local trade organizations in the area said they are trying to plan ahead for what they believe will be a huge jump in demand for workers in the years ahead, especially relating to the oil and gas industry.
Energy transmission company Kinder-Morgan has applied to federal regulators for permission to make approximately $400 million in improvements to a natural gas pipeline that runs through this area and then convert, or “re-purpose,” that line so it can carry natural gas liquids such as propane and butane to refineries in the southern United States. Part of the proposed project is a new compressor station in Mahoning County.
After obtaining permission, they will need to secure customers and contracts. The company is already working to land customers to tie in to the line, which could include some of the processing plants now operating around the area.
A spokesperson for Kinder-Morgan said the proposed project is still at least a year-and-a-half away from construction and would then take another two years to complete.
Members of local plumbing and pipefitting unions said they would welcome the chance to do work on the project.
“The opportunities that you are seeing in the Valley right now are just going through the roof,” Marty Loney of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396 said. “Quite honestly, some of the things that are coming into the Valley are going to just take off and really help create jobs and put people to work.”
“With the ethanol crackers, the cryogenic plants, these compressor stations, the pipelines, the new industrial growth coming in, that is true,” Butch Taylor of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396 said.
Taylor and Loney said the union has more than doubled the number of people in its apprenticeship program, but they are trying to stay ahead of what they think could be an increased demand for labor in the years ahead by offering training courses to teach the skills that will be required.
“And preparing ourselves takes time, whether it is the welding certifications, preparation for foremen training, rigging certifications, all the components for industrial projects to be successful,” Taylor said.