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Opportunities in the Oil and Gas Industry Discussed with Buckhannon Upshur High School Students

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An initiative aimed at helping educate high school students about career opportunities in the oil and natural gas industry was held in Upshur County on Thursday.

The career day event is part of the Energy Speaks initiative.

"These people have whole different jobs in the industry. So we want to rotate through and talk to these different groups, and talk to them about the what the opportunities are and how the oil and gas industry can benefit them and also give them some information about what they need to prepare for a career in oil and gas if they choose to pursue one," said Dennis Xander, president of Denex Petroleum Corp.

Energy Speaks is a campaign sponsored by the Just Beneath the Surface Alliance. The purpose of the alliance is to provide facts, clarify false information, and offer an in-depth look into the natural gas industry.

Industry officials said the reason why they talk with students is because the oil and gas industry is looking for future career workers.

"Right now there's over 30,000 people directly employed in the oil and gas industry in West Virginia, and our industry is expanding by 20 percent. We need employees, and right now one of the biggest challenges to the industry is finding employees," Xander said.

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia created the Tom Dunn Energy Leadership Academy two years ago. Industry representatives said the academy allows students to further their education to make a better career for themselves.

"We've had those that have went through the academy last year are now enrolling in September 2014 as petroleum engineering students at WVU. We've had other students we've talked to about commercial driver's license, CDL's. They're now driving water trucks and working," Xander said.

Oil and gas industry representatives said they've seen many people become successful after hearing what the industry can provide for them.

"We've done this for about three years. We've already had people come through this program, and see these presentations and as a result are working in the industry today. So it does work."

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