Express Energy links with Ohio's new Utica Shale Academy

STEUBENVILLE-Oil and gas companies are taking an active role in the newly formed Utica Shale Academy that gets under way this month.

Express Energy Services LP will be one of the businesses featured during the academy’s lecture series throughout the year and representatives will address topics of interest with students. The Utica Shale Academy is being offered statewide to grades 9-12 under the auspices of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center and officially begins on Aug. 19through facilities housed at Southern Local High School in Salineville, Columbiana County.

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Chuck Kokiko, who provides oversight to the academy through the JCESC, said about 24 students were registered thus far but the class size was unlimited.

“Our target is 50 and we’ll service as many as we can,” Dr. Kokiko commented. “One of our goals with the academy is to facilitate a partnership with the industry so we can make sure the students who will be graduating meet the industry’s needs.”

Officials hope to hold at least one lecture per month with oil and gas firms to discuss everything from well pads to maintenance.

“Obviously, we want a number of companies to be involved. The key will be to have as many opportunities available to the kids,” Dr. Kokiko added. “Express Energy will be beneficial and we’re excited that people have reached out to us and believe we’re an asset to the industry and are interested in volunteering their resources and their time.”

In addition, an advisory board is also being formed to help grads prepare for college or gain employment once they obtain their diplomas. But Dr. Kokiko mentioned that the Utica Shale Academy might also assist companies with current workers.

“If we can be a resource to the companies and provide training to employees, we’d be interested in doing that as well.”

Brian Logue, a sales representative for Express Energy Services, said the Texas-based company has actively supported educational programs and communities throughout the country, but this marks a first for the local area.

“[The company] has a big presence in Texas, North Dakota and in the Utica and Marcellus region,” Logue said. “I knew about Utica Shale Academy from being in the field.”

Express Energy Services, which has locations in Canonsburg and Williamsport, Pa., and locally in Toronto and Cambridge, employs nearly 100 people regionally and provides different lines of service such as conductor hole drilling, casing running, wireline and well testing. Logue explained its crews drillconductor holes reaching 30 inches in diameter and up to 180 feet into the ground and then install casing and cement to protect loose soil material and water-bearing formations. The company also performs wireline services to determine formation information and can perform perforation services prior to fracking operations. Express Energy Services began their presence in the Marcellus and Utica in the mid-2000s. It presently counts Chesapeake, Noble, Antero, CNX, XTO, Gulfport and American Energy Partners among its clientele.

Logue said he contacted Dr. Kokiko and offered to get involved in the program. Logue will be among the guest lecturers and plans to provide assistance and equipment for demonstrations.

“We have our own multimillion-dollar training facility in Texas with a rig and devices we call ‘Express U.’ We train all new employees and offer advanced training to existing employees,” he said. “In the Marcellus and northeast region, we’re supportive of different programs and it’s probably the first time we’ve been involved in this area with the Utica Shale Academy.”

Logue said the region was ripe with opportunity for a workforce, and that is a demand the academy could help supply.

“There are tons of opportunities,” he added. “It would be easier to recruit people if they had specialized training. We cannot get enough people in some of these fields. [The Utica Shale Academy] is a great opportunity and I hope students turn out. It’s in a perfect area where there’s a lot of action and a lot of potential.”

The Utica Shale Academy, which is a conversion school sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, will offer more than 100 traditional high school courses, including advanced placement and specialized classes focusing on the energy industry. It is a tuition-free program that allows for flexible scheduling and blended learning. Students must spend a majority of their time on campus but may attend morning or afternoon classes on alternate days. It also has articulations agreements with Stark State and Eastern Gateway Community Colleges for students to earn college credit while in high school and create an accelerated tract to earn certificates and associates degrees at Stark State. Coursework is recognized by the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC), which has been training the industry for more than 70 years, and officials are also consulting with the Society of Petroleum Engineers for curriculum options. Students will be eligible for RigPass and other oil and gas-specific certifications so they can leave high school ready to enter the job market.

For more information, contact Dr. Kokiko at (740) 283-3347, the academy at 330-679-8162, go online to or email
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