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November 3, 2017 1:45 PM, EDT
Oil and Gas Companies Search for Truckers in Pennsylvania
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

After 42 years with the same employer, Kevin Spath of West Deer, Pa., is facing the prospect of losing his job.

He’s been told his last day working in shipping and receiving at his employer’s warehouse will be Nov. 17.

Spath, 63, was among job seekers — those with jobs and those without — who came to a job fair in the cafeteria at Deer Lakes High School on Nov. 2, hoping for the best.

“I figured since this was here, I’d get some information,” he said. “What I’m looking for is benefits. Maybe I’ll find something.”

Carrying a commercial driver’s license, Spath may have been just what some outfits in the oil-and-natural gas industry were looking for. Representatives of that field, along with the building trades, dominated the fair hosted by Allegheny County Councilman Ed Kress.

Marissa Powell, a recruiter with Equipment Transport, based in Carlisle, was looking for people with CDL truck driver’s licenses and the right experience.

Powell’s company works with Range Resources, which also attended the job fair and had 10 job openings to fill at its offices in Cecil Township, Washington County.

While growth in natural gas has slowed, “There’s still a lot of well-paying, family sustaining jobs in this industry,” said Mike Mackin, director of external affairs for Range.

Equipment Transport has more than 500 employees in several states, with about 200 in Pennsylvania, Powell said.

She was looking for 10 to 15 people to drive water trucks, or, as they’re known in the industry, “water bottles.”

It pays $19 to $21 per hour, with 12-hour shifts, five days a week.

The challenge Powell faces is getting applicants with the right experience — including a tanker endorsement, clean driving record and two years of experience.

“We need to get more people to work for us,” she said.

But “there’s a lot of new drivers out there” who don’t have the necessary experience, she said.

Falcon Drilling is another company working with Range, specializing in vertical drilling for wells.

“It’s physical labor,” human resources manager Rachel Himes said. “You’re constantly moving and out in the elements.”

They work 14 days on, then 14 days off.

But, she said, “the pay is great.” With no experience or education, someone can be making up to $59,000 a year, plus benefits.

“I’m always hoping to find anybody, at any time,” she said. “It’s tough to fill the positions. It’s hard to find quality people.”

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