The Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (SB1715), signed by Governor Quinn on June 17, could add thousands of jobs to the Southern Illinois economy, and Kaskaskia College is positioning itself to serve the needs of individuals in District 501 seeking jobs in the industry.
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the process of creating fissures in underground formations to allow natural gas to flow. During fracking, water, sand and other additives are pumped under high pressure into the shale formation to create fractures. Frac fluid is approximately 99.5% water and sand, with a small amount of special-purpose additives. The sand is used to “prop” open the newly created fractures, which allows the natural gas to flow into the wellbore and up to the surface.
Fracking is done after the drilling rig has completed the wellbore and has been removed. The actual process of fracking natural gas well takes less than a week to complete. At that point, the natural gas produced from the well that was hydraulically fractured is no different than any other natural gas well, regardless of how the well was completed.
Finally, and most importantly, the abundant quantities of natural gas contained in shale deposits have been unlocked by combining hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling. While the combination of these technologies has been used for decades, it was perfected for shales about 10 years ago. The result is a complete change in the energy outlook for the United States, and many countries in the world for that matter.
According to the President of TC Technologies, the drilling of a single well contributes to the employment of 115 people in a variety of direct and support occupations A large percentage of those occupations require some initial training or an associate degree, but not a 4-year degree.
Members of the administrative staff at the College have begun gathering information on hydraulic fracturing and the new jobs it promises for Southern Illinois, with special attention to its impact in other states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania that have already begun experiencing a “fracking” boom.
Plans are to conduct a detailed analysis of job outlook data for the “fracking” industry.
There are numerous employment opportunities for which Kaskaskia College will prepare graduates to enter work in the industry.
KC representatives will be convening an advisory committee of employers in the industry, to advise and assist in learning more about the “fracking” jobs that will be coming to Illinois and the specific skills needed to qualify for them.
It is anticipated that two or more Kaskaskia College faculty and/or staff members will become
certified by Safeland USA, a volunteer organization comprised of major and independent operating companies, industry associations, and educators with the purpose of developing a standardized orientation which meets minimum requirements for the US Onshore Exploration and Production Industry. The ultimate goal for Kaskaskia College is to become a certified training provider for Safeland USA. This will allow the College to train members of our workforce and prepare them for careers in the hydraulic fracturing industry.
Kaskaskia College representatives also plan to engage other community colleges, in Illinois and other states, to share ideas and explore possible partnerships in response to the anticipated “fracking” boom, with a view toward marketing existing KC programs relevant to the industry and developing new courses or programs tailored to its specific employment requirements as needed.
According to George Evans, Dean of Career and Technical Education, “Kaskaskia College was very glad to hear of the passage of the new bill, and the prospect of many new jobs for our region. We are committed to responding fully to this unique opportunity as part of our ongoing effort to meet the employment needs of individuals and communities throughout our District”.
For more information, contact Evans at 545-3030.