NATRIUM - Jobs paying nearly $30 per hour are on there way to Marshall County, as Dominion Resources will look to hire 40-45 full-time, permanent workers at its natural gas processing plant set to open in December.
"The positions will be for electricians, gas processing plant operators and loaders, with an hourly union wage rate between $23.54 and $29.56," said Dominion spokesman Charles Penn. "We will post union positions internally, and we have advertised some positions externally. If there are no qualified bidders internally for those positions, we will recruit externally."
As the $500 million plant remains under construction along the Ohio River in Marshall County, members of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation remain at odds with Dominion - as well as the company building the plant on Dominion's behalf, Chicago Bridge & Iron - for not hiring more local workers to build the facility. Dominion officials, however, note that many of the on-site construction workers are from the local area.
Photo by Casey Junkins
The Dominion Resources Natrium processing plant, slated to be up and running by December, continues taking shape along the Ohio River in Marshall County.
Though the construction jobs remain in dispute, Penn emphasized Dominion will be employing local workers on a permanent basis when the plant is finished.
"If some of our current employees apply and meet the requirements for the positions, their positions come open and will be filled," he said.
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with 11,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline and 6,300 miles of electric transmission lines. The company serves retail energy customers in 15 states.
Once the wet Marcellus and Utica shale gas travels to the Dominion plant via the company's existing pipeline network, the ethane, butane, propane and other natural gas liquids will be separated from the methane gas so that all the products can be individually marketed.
A company such as Chesapeake Energy - which has agreed to supply the Dominion plant with its gas stream - is known in the industry as a "producer" because it sells the gas that it pumps out of the ground. Because the wet gas requires processing before it can go to market, Chesapeake and other producers send their gas to companies such as Dominion, Williams Partners (formerly Caiman Energy) or MarkWest Energy for processing. The separated gas products are then ready for use, with the ethane possibly going to a cracker plant somewhere in North America.
Penn said those looking for a career working at a natural gas plant will need different skills depending upon their specific positions. He said some workers will need electrical experience in an industrial setting, while others will need experience in process operation control that they may have from working in gas, paper, water or chemical plants. There will also be positions for rail and tanker truck loading.
With the Dominion plant set to open this year - and several other processing plants slated to open in the next few years in West Virginia and Ohio, such at the $900 million Chesapeake complex in Harrison and Carroll counties - West Virginia Northern Community College is looking to help train workers for these plants. According to the fall course catalog, the college will offer a 400-hour course to teach natural gas plant operations at a cost of $2,695.
"With all the plants set to open in the area, we thought there may be some interest in this," said Mike Koon, vice president of workforce development for the college, noting this particular course will be taught entirely online. "We are looking at the possibility of have some hands-on programs for this, but we are not there yet."
The catalog shows the course will teach students the math, physics and chemistry necessary to succeed in the industry. Other topics will include teaching proper safety procedures. basic elements of electricity, elements of gas compression, and other aspects in the career of a processing plant worker.