On February 14, members of the community joined business and industry leaders for a dialog about energy, manufacturing careers, and how they are related and can help the region. The Think About Energy Briefing, sponsored by UGI Energy Services and Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, was held in Hazelwood, PA.  

The energy sector is a broad industry comprised of many different moving parts that all need to work in tandem to create a final product. Our speakers broke down the stages and explained where their organizations fit.  

The future of manufacturing is here
  1. Upstream: Everything begins here. You have suppliers like Cabot, that explore, drill, and produce the natural gas. Basically, we find it and get it out of the ground. George Stark, Director, External Affairs at Cabot, explained how it’s impossible to get the materials to the consumer without the pipelines to deliver it.  
  2. Midstream: Producers bring in companies like UGI Energy Services to gather, store, and transport the material over their infrastructure. They deliver it to refineries, petrochemical plants, or various other locations. Pam Witmer, Vice President of Governmental Affairs at UGIES shared some of their upcoming projects and how their growth is creating a need for rapid infrastructure expansion across the region.  
  3. Downstream: Finally, it’s time for utilization. Facilities like the Shell Cracker Plant in Beaver County, PA., take the materials and process them into energy or physical products for commercial or industrial uses. Dan Brockett, Extension Educator from the Penn State Cooperative Extension, explained how the Shell Plant uses the ethane found in natural gas to create ethylene pellets. The pellets are shipped to facilities and turned into items that have applications ranging from home use to the medical field. 

However, these many facets of natural gas would be incomplete without specialized equipment to support the process. Mike Lordi, CEO of Elliott Group, shared a little bit about how their turbomachinery is designed for rotating equipment applications used in natural gas production, processing, and refineries. Fun fact: Elliott Group built the turbines used in the Shell Cracker Plant. Because of their size and the need to ship them fully assembled, they had to build the turbines at their headquarters in Jeannette, PA, put them on a barge, and send them down the river to the plant.  

Petra talks about manufacturing at energy event

 The briefing concluded with Keynote speaker Petra Mitchell, President and CEO of Catalyst Connections, a group that provides consulting and training services to small manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania. They help these organizations adopt advanced manufacturing technologies and build a strong workforce. It’s hard for manufacturers to find and keep employees these days, but by promoting career awareness and education, Catalyst Connections is creating new opportunities for both companies and job seekers. She even exclaimed, “it’s a great time to be in energy!”  

Each of the speakers shared their successes and plans for future growth that leads to new career opportunities for our community. Careers can range anywhere from welder to bookkeeper, and almost everyone is hiring.  

The next Think About Energy Briefing will be held on March 18 in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. Register online today!