By David Conti
Gas companies operating in and around the Marcellus shale say they are increasingly hiring skilled workers for engineering and construction jobs as the industry matures beyond the rush to drill wells.
The high-paying jobs accounted for 26.5 percent of new hires last year, according to a survey of member companies that the Marcellus Shale Coalition will release on Tuesday. That percentage increased from 10.8 percent in last year’s survey by the North Fayette-based group.
Hiring for equipment operations, which accounted for nearly 30 percent of new workers in 2012, dropped to about 23 percent.
Analysts who did not participate in the survey said the changes could reflect a move in the industry from a focus on drilling wells to building what they call the midstream infrastructure — the pipelines and other equipment that moves natural gas from wells to processors, power plants and other customers.
“The first horse out of the gate is upstream. Now as that’s maturing, you see more in the midstream or downstream development,” said Dave Pistner, director of energy initiatives at Penn State University’s Pennsylvania College of Technology.