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4 •
N
orth
T
exas
E
nergy
O
utlook
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
By ERIC VICCARO
The State of Texas
went through a boom in
the petroleum sector dur-
ing the early 1980s.
The boom is back today
because of new methods
for extracting oil – in our
local Barnett Shale, the
Cline Shale located in the
Permian Basin of West
Texas and the Bakken
Shale of North Dakota.
But, who’s going to fill
those jobs? After all, the
petroleum sector hasn’t
enjoyed success like this
in a generation.
That’s where North
Central Texas College’s
growing petroleum tech-
nology program comes
into play. It ’ s being
called, “The Great Crew
Change.”
Encana, a leading en-
ergy producer for North
America, came to NCTC’s
door in 2006 with the
proposal to start a pro-
gram.
Discussions took place
between industry leaders
and the college through
2007.A curriculum was
developed soon after, put
together with help from
Western Wyoming Com-
munity College in Rock
Springs, WY. The two
schools share the same
curriculum.
The NCTC petroleum
technology program had
its grand opening here in
Bowie in May 2009.
Steve Burnett, who
had worked in offshore
drilling for Pennzoil for
17 years, was hired as
an instructor and now
he serves as petroleum
technology department
co-chair.
The first class of 25
graduates earned their
degrees in 2010.
The program has now
grown to about 140 stu-
dents, Burnett reported.
Em i l y K l e m e n t ,
NCTC’s associate vice
president for academic
partnerships, is especial-
ly proud of the program.
“It’s probably one of
the most rewarding ini-
tiatives I’ve been part
of,” Klement said. “I am
so proud of the outcomes
we’re experiencing. It’s
making a difference in
the lives of people. They
are getting an education
and training here, and
getting amazing jobs.”
Burnett reported the
plan is to double the num-
ber of class sessions next
semester, and he said
there’s a good likelihood
the department will be
adding a third professor.
So, why has the NCTC
program flourished?
Burnett and Klement
said it’s because Mon-
tague County’s culture
is deeply rooted in oil
production.
The students are put
through a broad-based
curriculum. Students
selecting the two-year
program earn 60 credits.
There’s also a one-year
certificate available for
27 college credits.
During their first se-
mester, students receive
an introduction to the
petroleum industry, in-
dustrial safety, oil field
hydraulics and construc-
tion methods. Pupils are
also required to take a
speaking course.
In the second semes-
ter, the principles of elec-
tricity are taught, as well
as natural gas production
and petroleum instru-
mentation.
During the second
year, students learn re-
covery and production
methods, drilling and
natural gas processing
and well completion.
As part of the degree,
students also must take
courses in English com-
position, United States
history, art appreciation,
leadership and some form
of math – college-level
algebra or elementary
statistics.
Classes last one hour,
50 minutes, and include
laboratory work.
One of the offerings is
a three-credit capstone
cal l ed, “Cooperat ive
Education: Petroleum
Technology/Technician” –
which essentially serves
as an internship.
Students have the op-
portunity to make plenty
of money after completing
their degree program.
According to the Drill-
ing Oil and Natural Gas
Wells Survey, a floor
hand makes $54,000,
and that’s just to start.
Burnett said many com-
panies pay significantly
more for floor hands.
There are many dif-
ferent kinds of positions
available: Deck crew,
derrickmen, crane opera-
tors, drillers and push-
ers. Pushers are typically
the department heads
in charge of the drilling
department and report
to the installation man-
ager.
“We help get their foot
in the door, and there
are a lot of different jobs
available,” Burnett said.
NCTC’s program could
very well be described as
unique.
Navarro Junior Col-
lege, also here in Texas,
also has an oil-and-gas
program, but it’s not as
comprehensive as the one
here. There are schools
with this special type of
curriculum in West Vir-
ginia, North Dakota and
Pennsylvania.
“There are only about
seven or eight colleges
where you can get a de-
gree (like this),” Burnett
said. “Not a lot of schools
offer this program.”
Burnett reported the
Houston Independent
School District even has
begun offering a two
courses in the oil and gas
industry to its students.
Graduates fromNCTC
take positions all across
the United States as well
as internationally.
Burnett doesn’t foresee
an oil bust anytime soon,
and that should keep his
program thriving.
“We’re becoming not
as influenced by imported
oil,” Burnett said.
He said the industry
has the ability to with-
stand changes to political
systems and ideologies,
and that’s because of
the new revolutionary
pumping and drilling
methods.
NCTC’ s petroleum
t echno l ogy program
also was made possible
through the assistance
of the Bowie Economic
Development Corpora-
tion, local energy con-
tractors such as Energy
Service Company, and
other businesses.
Learn about the tech-
nology program at
NCTC guiding the ‘Great Crew Change’
Bowie-based petroleum technology program continues at forefront of industry
News photo by Eric Viccaro
Steve Burnett, shows off one of the newest pieces of equipment in the North Central Texas College petroleum
technology laboratory. This orifice meter measures gas by cubic feet.