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West Virginia’s Northern panhandle jobless rates have improved


The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

West Virginia Northern Community College petroleum technology instructor Curt Hippensteel demonstrates a plunger lift, which is commonly found at natural gas wells that have already been drilled.
(Intelligencer photo by Casey Junkins)

WHEELING, W.Va. — As the Upper Ohio Valley waits to learn whether a $6 billion Belmont County ethane cracker will bring hundreds of permanent jobs, officials at West Virginia Northern College are training students to work in a wide range of petroleum technology careers.

According to WorkForce West Virginia and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, jobless rates throughout most of the area have declined since summer. With more natural gas rigs already running, the potential for the PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker, and the plans for China Energy to build $83.7 billion worth of natural gas projects in West Virginia, the opportunities for careers in the industry seem destined to grow.

“If someone likes to be outside and doesn’t mind working hard, it is a great career for them,” college Petroleum Technology instructor Curt Hippensteel said. “Although it varies by company and position, someone can start out making as much as $60,000 per year right out of the program. And eventually, they could make a lot more than that.”

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