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Geologist: Oil and education linked: Tour gives higher ed a glimpse of careers

FNS Photo by Amy Dalrymple Hess drilling consultant David Gjovig, right, gives a tour of a drilling rig Wednesday near Tioga to North Dakota University System Chancellor Larry Skogen, from left, Dickinson State University communications director Mark Billings, system communications director Linda Donlin and board vice chairman Terry Hjelmstad.

TIOGA — North Dakota’s higher education leaders got a peek into the oil and gas industry Wednesday to better understand how to prepare workers.

Oilfield geologist Kathy Neset of Tioga, who also serves on the state Board of Higher Education, invited board members, university system staff and campus presidents to tour several oilfield locations. Hess Corp. led the group on a tour of a drilling rig, the Tioga Gas Plant and the Tioga Rail Terminal.

“As North Dakota educators, they can see firsthand what industry needs and how we can link the two together,” Neset said.

Steve McNally, general manager for the company’s North Dakota operations, said Hess has 80 job openings in the Bakken right now.

“You name it, we need it,” McNally said.

In particular, the industry is looking for workers who can collaborate with others and work together to solve problems, McNally said.

“We need all the engineers you can handle,” Ken Goebel, a chemical engineer who manages the gas plant, told the educators.

North Dakota University System leaders want to better understand the oil and gas industry so they can be more responsive, said Chancellor Larry Skogen.

“Higher education is absolutely vital to the development of this industry,” Skogen said.

Board member Grant Shaft of Grand Forks said the tour was an eye-opener for him.

“We just don’t know a lot about this,” Shaft said. “I wish there was a way to get more of the population, particularly kids, to see the types of things we saw today.”

Adam Sagaser, a North Dakota State University geology student who is in his third summer interning in the Bakken, said having industry experts speak in class can help students understand who types of job opportunities are out there.

D.C. Coston, president of Dickinson State University, said a recent survey showed that of the university’s graduates who stay in North Dakota, 23 percent work in the energy industry. It’s important for education to continue to work with industry to evolve its programs, Coston said.

The board, which typically meets at college campuses, will hold its meeting today at Neset Consulting Service in Tioga. They were spending Wednesday night at a Tioga crew camp.