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Chevron, Benedum fund oil, gas education

Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Casey Junkins West Virginia Northern Community College Petroleum Technology instructor Curt Hippensteel shows college Director of Economic & Workforce Development Karri Mulhern some of the equipment students use to learn how to work in the Marcellus and Utica shale fields.
Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Casey Junkins
West Virginia Northern Community College Petroleum Technology instructor Curt Hippensteel shows college Director of Economic & Workforce Development Karri Mulhern some of the equipment students use to learn how to work in the Marcellus and Utica shale fields.

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Hoping to give students growing up in the Marcellus shale region the opportunity to work in the oil and natural gas industry, Chevron will partner with the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and others for the $20 million Appalachia Partnership Initiative.

Along with RAND Corp. and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Chevron and the Benedum foundation hope to foster a new generation of workers in 27 counties across Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Collectively, this area constitutes the heart of the Marcellus and Utica shale rush, a region likely to need those who can work as petroleum engineers, drillers, roustabouts, floorhands and pumpers for years to come.

Officials said the initiative strives to improve education and technical training to meet the needs of growing regional energy and manufacturing industries through the development by both developing new programs and expanding current ones.

“Chevron is committed to building lasting relationships and creating prosperity in the tri-state area and in every region where we operate,” Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron executive vice president of Policy and Planning, said.

Chevron has 52 oil and natural gas wells in Marshall County, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Records show.

A 2012 labor analysis report by the Allegheny conference determined that a shortage of skills in the Marcellus region work force – particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math – could prevent energy companies such as Chevron from filling thousands of new jobs.

“This initiative is a big opportunity for all of us who care about the region’s students, workers and economic prosperity, and we are proud to join with Chevron and its partners to support programs that will help us capitalize on economic opportunities made possible by the strength of the energy sector in our regional economy,” Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny conference, said.

“Our success is deeply linked to the region’s progress, and we are proud to launch this long-term initiative to address critical STEM education and work force development needs in the tri-state area,” Zygocki added.

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