By Jennifer Kimrey
Clean-burning natural gas is used to heat and cool approximately 65 million American homes and power 23 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG).
And although the United States has an abundance of natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is essential to providing the United States with the ability to import or export natural gas depending on market conditions.
As the demand for LNG continues to rise, the industry will rely on a developing infrastructure to support it. While engineers design the structures that will accommodate LNG, it’s those in non-engineering roles who bring the designs to life.
“We hire everyone to support our LNG service offering in the areas of safety, conceptual design, detail engineering, material procurement, fabrication, construction, project management, compliance support, commissioning and start-up, and operator training – we don’t just hire engineers. You could spend all day listing the non-engineering jobs available. There are a significant amount of positions that are required for projects of this size,” said Tom Anderson, president of Lutech Resources, the recruiting arm of CB&I.
“As part of our concept-to-completion range of capabilities, CB&I offers construction and construction-management services. People in this field are a big part of what CB&I does.”
More financially efficient transportation, a quickly growing infrastructure, newly discovered gas basins and better technological developments mean that the LNG industry is better able to meet a swelling demand for cleaner fuel.
With this mounting demand comes a rising need for a qualified workforce. Due to the range of jobs and projects non-engineering employees work, the LNG industry relies heavily on this workforce to not only keep production going, but to keep it going safely.
“These employees are everything to us because they have to build high quality products – safe products. As important as engineering teams are in designing these structures, someone still has to put it all together. These employees have a difficult job … and are the foundation of the LNG industry.”
Anderson said both the engineering and non-engineering sides of LNG are integral to the industry.
“Both engineers and non-engineers are important to the project because it is a integrated team effort. Engineering is a key component, and the actual construction and work in the field is just as important,” Anderson said.
Many non-engineering jobs require responsibilities and skills that are applicable to a separate non-engineering role, providing a unique employment opportunity to cross-train in another subfield and change trades.
“You may have someone working on a project somewhere else in the energy sector whose skills and experience are applicable to an LNG project. You also have others who are able to perform tasks unique to that sector, but are able to get training and then do another type of job in another sector such as LNG,” Anderson said.
Regardless of previous experience, LNG employers ensure their staff is properly trained before any job or change in responsibility.
“We provide training, and it all depends on the needs of the job. For welders, for example, we might provide training or help with their certifications. As employees move their way up, the additional or continued training will depend on what the needs are.”
In addition to a competitive salary, benefits packages and insurance, LNG employers take great pride in taking care of their own, offering a productive and enthusiastic work culture.
Promoting from within
“We like to review people so we can promote from within,” said Tim Lowrey, vice president of Applied Cryo Technologies. “What we hear most is that, because of the work culture, our employees are motivated. Everything is so well-planned, and there are processes in place for them so there’s no struggle to do their job.”
As the need for LNG continues to rise, Lowrey said he sees the demand for a qualified workforce to support the industry also continuing to rise.
“I would certainly encourage anyone interested in LNG to join the industry. Whether you’re an engineer or a non-engineer, I think working for the industry is a real opportunity. People on every level can get into it. The country has a real chance to rewriting our energy future – I really, really believe that,” Lowrey said.