NEGLEY - More local workers should be used for oil and gas exploration in the county, Clint Powell told Middleton Township trustees Monday.
Powell is business manager for Local 809 of the Laborer's International Union of North America. He and member Shawn Barnes said they are going across Columbiana, Harrison and Jefferson counties in Ohio to raise awareness of the local talent available that isn't being used with regards to oil and gas drilling.
"I have checked well sites and spoke with contractors and they (Chesapeake Energy) aren't hiring locally," Powell said.
Contractors hired to perform pipeline installation, soil stabilization, erosion control and even horizontal boring and directional drilling were mostly from out-of-state, with some even as far away as Texas, he added.
Local 809 workers are skilled in all of these areas, and then some, he said.
The union has 750 members in all three Ohio counties and Brooke and Hancock County in West Virginia. Powell estimated roughly 200 workers are located in Columbiana County.
Over the last year the county has attracted interest from oil and gas exploration companies due to its Marcellus and Utica Shale gas play.
According to the Ohio Division of Natural Resources (ODNR), as of the first week of February permits for horizontal drilling in the local Utica shale were issued to Chesapeake Energy for sites in Middleton, Franklin, Hanover, Washington, West and Knox townships.
Chesapeake Energy is one of the leading natural gas drillers in the country, and wells have already been drilled in West and Knox townships.
The 14 Columbiana County permits were listed with hundreds of other permits issued throughout the state to Chesapeake Energy and other companies, according to the ODNR website.
There were no Columbiana County permits issued for horizontal drilling in the Marcellus Shale play during the first week of February, although the shale play has generated significant interest from drilling companies.
Powell and Barnes urged the trustees to discuss local hiring to Chesapeake Energy since the board is in contact with the company.
The company has already approached the board for approval of township road use. The company will use some township roads to transport water and other liquids used in the hydraulic fracturing process to nearby drilling sites.
The board approved the road maintenance agreements earlier this month.
Trustee Eldena Gearhart asked the men if the union has spoken with Chesapeake about the local hiring opportunity.
"They don't want to talk to us, they want to talk to contractors we just want them to call local contractors," Powell said.
Trustees told the men to compose a cover letter specifying what their workers are qualified in and that letter will be distributed on their behalf.
Gearheart said she will personally distribute the letter during the County Township Association meeting in West Township on March 7.
"I'd certainly like to see money kept locally," Trustee Nancy Michaels said.
In other business, trustees approved:
- Expenditures in the amount of $17,436.72. The bills included $10,800 for fire demolition cleanup, $750 for 75 tons of ash and $200 for two tons of cold patch; $3,428 in hospitalization premiums and $2,082 for liability insurance on township trucks, including fire trucks.
- Renewing the annual contract with the Negley Volunteer Fire Department for $100,000.
- A request from Negley resident Steve Yanni to use an unnamed alley off Depot Road to access his property.
Fiscal Officer Bob Chapman announced there will be no chip and seal in Negley this year due to Columbia Gas replacing gas mains beginning in April and possibly running through December.