Veteran finds new opportunity in oil and gas industry

After leaving the Navy, George Purdy looked to the oil and gas industry for a new opportunity.

Even before he left the U.S. Navy, George Purdy's career was already linked to the oil and gas industry in an interesting way. As an aviation ordnanceman, he was responsible for maintaining critical weapons systems aboard American ships patrolling the Straits of Hormuz – a narrow waterway through which more than half of all the oil sold on international markets passes on a daily basis.

The U.S. military has played a vital role in ensuring that the straits remain passable since the 1970s. However, Purdy looked forward to the day when he could pursue a job in a less volatile sector. After leaving the Navy, the veteran enjoyed a string of entrepreneurial successes. He was employed as a shipping clerk for a time, then found work as a general laborer. He also owned a painting company that worked on residential and commercial properties.

Although none of these fields quite satisfied the former serviceman, he did have an idea of which sector might suit him.

"I was always interested in the oil industry as a new career," Purdy said. He added that he thought of the field as one in which he would be able to find "a job in a team environment that pays well."

Pathway to new career led through DOL-financed training program

When he settled on the oil and gas sector as his best bet for a meaningful new career, Purdy knew he would need to fine-tune his skill set to open doors in the industry. The veteran found an opportunity at Westmoreland County Community College in Pennsylvania.

A grant from the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration had helped the school launch a program that aimed to equip the state's workers with the skills needed to support the growth of Pennsylvania's burgeoning oil and gas industry. Thanks to the federal funding, Purdy's tuition at Westmoreland was completely covered.

His initial coursework focused on basic business principles and skills such as resume writing. After brushing up the fundamentals, Purdy was able to put his technical expertise to work in classes that covered more advanced, industry-specific topics. The former serviceman studied oil rigging, natural gas production, heavy equipment maintenance and key safety practices.

Purdy's story was profiled in the April 25 edition of the Department of Labor's newsletter. He reportedly accepted a job as a technician shortly after graduating from Westmoreland's ShaleNET program.

Technological innovation remains a pillar of success in the industry

Drawing technical talent into the sector remains a key priority for oil and gas companies, as the range of challenges facing the industry continues to evolve. Specifically, as output from established oil producing regions has declined, the industry has been pushed to explore for new resources in increasingly prohibitive environments, from deep waters to the arctic. This has placed new demands on the contemporary technologies used to drill, complete and operate oil and gas wells.

However, new solutions continue to emerge in response to the sector's needs. For instance, the hydraulic jet pump has become known as an especially powerful and versatile solution. This equipment can be used to effectively complete drill stem testing and initiate or optimize production at new or mature sites.