Booming Texas Petrochemical Industry Needs Workers - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Booming Texas Petrochemical Industry Needs Workers

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

What you will witness at San Jacinto College's Ball Tech Center is sure thing job training for an industry hungry for new workers.

"It is exploding. Booming is to weak a word. It is exploding," said Michael Speegle, Chairman of San Jacinto's Department of Process Technology.

Speegle is talking about the petrochemical industry - the prime benefactor of a low cost, shale based, natural gas bonanza that's given American producers a five to one price advantage over the rest of the world and setoff a massive Gulf Coast expansion.

 

University of Houston Economist Bill Gilmer says as many 10 new facilities are under some stage of development.

"Suddenly everyone would like to have one of those plants. It is like a money generating machine. There is probably $100 billion in investment over the next five to ten years," said Gilmer.

To harvest the fuel and operate the plants a new IHS study estimates the energy business will need 1.3 million new workers by 2020.

That's why, with just two years training, applied science students at San Jacinto are all but guaranteed great paying positions.

Speegle's son graduated from the program five years ago and is thriving.

"He makes on average about $108,000 a year of which 35 percent of that is overtime. He's got enough money in a savings account that it just blew my mind when he told me," said Speegle.

 

For Houston, Texas and the rest of the nation for that matter, the news couldn't get much better. Economist Gilmer says barring a collapse in product demand or the price of oil, a decade or more of prosperity is a good bet and a revitalized petrochemical sector is a big part of the story.

 

"If you had asked any of these companies five years ago if they would ever build a petrochemical plant in the US the answer was no, not only no, but hell no we don't want one," said Gilmer of the

industry's resurgence.

For thousands of local young people, it's a powerful opportunity to earn well early and for the rest of their working lives.

"The ability to make money is there," said Speegle.

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