Local & Regional
4:41 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

OSU Institute of Technology Opens Natural Gas Compression Training Facility

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology opened a new facility Wednesday to train students in the latest equipment and techniques in natural gas compression.

The Okmulgee school has a history of corporate partnerships.

"If you look across this entire campus, every discipline is basically supported by a corporate partner, and this is just the latest example," said OSU President Burns Hargis at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, ONEOK and Energy Transfer all gave money toward the facility's construction.

Chesapeake was the lead donor, giving $2 million of the $4.9 million needed to build it. The facility bears the company's name: Chesapeake Energy Natural Gas Compression Training Center.

Energy industry executives hope the facility will help OSUIT expand its natural gas compression program, which the school began in 1979. The school expects enrollment to grow from 65 students to 160 by 2015.

The energy industry needs these trained workers for two reasons.

Chesapeake Oilfields CEO Jerry Winchester said some companies are faced with replacing up to 70 percent of their workers as they retire in the coming years. 

Winchester also said the industry trend of drilling for shale oil typically involves natural gas.

"We have to deal with it," he said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "It has to be compressed. It has to be sold. This equipment, these people, this process is what makes all that happen."

OSUIT representatives said the natural gas compression program is open to new students and current energy employees who want to update their skills.