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Natural Gas Industry Leaking Jobs

GIBSON TOWNSHIP — The natural gas industry came to Pennsylvania nearly a decade ago and brought jobs. Now, some companies are finding the need to lay off ...
williams pipeline

GIBSON TOWNSHIP -- The natural gas industry came to Pennsylvania nearly a decade ago and brought jobs. Now, some companies are finding the need to lay off workers by the hundreds.

The Lackawanna College campus near New Milford gets students ready for a career in the oil and gas industry. While companies were hiring in big numbers in recent years, now some -- including pipeline giant Williams -- are downsizing as the market for natural gas has plummeted.

At the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum and Natural Gas near New Milford, students learn about the industry and hope to land a job once they graduate.

"I want to find a long-term career," said Ben Whitaker of Scott Township. "I can go to Alaska, overseas, Texas.

Whitaker is willing to go anywhere to work and that's what the school prides itself on: preparing students for jobs beyond the Marcellus Shale region.

Natural gas production in the Marcellus ramped up fast and companies like Williams -- which builds pipelines and compressor stations -- built this massive headquarters near Tunkhannock.

Now there is word that Williams is laying off 10 percent of its employees, nearly 700 across the company, including some here in the Marcellus region.

"Williams continues to be a good partner here providing internships for our students, always willing to send people over for training," said Lackawanna College operations manager Bill McDonough.

McDonough isn't surprised by the moves of some companies to downsize amid the current market for natural gas.

Students, including Loryn Peters of Avoca, aren't fazed either.

"That's every industry, ups and downs.  It's not going anywhere, can't go anywhere, so much Marcellus shale that hasn't been touched yet," said Peters.

However as more companies that drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale slow down production, the domino effect has led to layoffs at Williams and other big name companies such as Baker Hughes,  Halliburton, Range Resources, and more.

Williams would not say exactly how many of its employees in our area are being laid off. Those workers will get severance pay and help finding another job.