Grade 7 students at St. Matthew’s school, Olivia Penney and Samantha Rideout were on hand for the launch of Oil and Gas Week 2012 on Monday. The event was held in the gymnasium at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) campus on Prince Philip Drive in St. John’s.
The pair could be spotted toward the back of the gym, beside poster boards with information on jobs within the oil and gas industry. The projects, they said, were sparked by grants being offered for students’ research into jobs in the industry.
“I did specifically hydrologists and how they save the environment,” Penney told The Telegram. “They go and they inspect water and make sure it’s clean and if there’s an oil spill they can help clean it.”
“I did my project on Q.C. — quality control. They ensure the projects are done properly so that there’s not anything that shouldn’t be used that can affect the environment in the stuff being done,” Rideout said.
The students were acknowledged, along with other junior high-aged presenters, in the opening speeches for Oil and Gas Week — by industry, education and government representatives.
Also acknowledged were the several hundred post-secondary students in attendance.
“We are now in a stage in our development where we are well beyond speculation of possibilities. We are at a point where Newfoundland and Labrador is now recognized as a significant oil producer,” said CNA president Ann Marie Vaughan.
She said the college, as with its partners at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), aims to fill available oil and gas positions with local graduates.
“One of the goals of this week is to attract more of our young people into programs that prepare them for jobs in this industry,” she said.
According to honoured graduate Cory Stead (2005), locals have been making their mark within the industry in recent years.
He said his employer, ExxonMobil, has 50 CNA graduates in its international ranks.
There were four, $1,000 scholarships for post-secondary students presented at the event.
The recipients — Sean Adams (MUN), Colin Brisco (MUN), Samantha Strowbridge (Marine Institute- MI) and Scott Fitzgerald (CNA) — are studying in different areas, from geophysics to business administration, but have opportunities available within the oil industry.
Strowbridge, originally from Grand Bank, is studying nautical sciences at MI. She said she has been considering a job in the sphere of oil and gas since shortly after beginning her post-secondary studies.
The idea was set, she said, after taking in presentations on the offshore and hearing about “how it’s increasing.”
“I actually did 12 months working on the offshore supply vessels and hopefully, after graduation in June, I’ll continue working on them and move up through as an officer.”
Minister of Natural Resources, Jerome Kennedy, said the development of the industry is about more than direct jobs. It, “fuels what takes place in our province,” he said.
“This industry is allowing for not only opportunities in employment and education, but it’s also providing us with needed revenues to build infrastructure, to spend on social programs and what it’s doing — it’s creating a province we all want to live in,” he said.
“Millions and millions and millions of dollars, stemming from the oil and gas industry, really, have come into the city, stimulating all kinds of economic initiatives. And that money has permeated the whole economy,” said Mayor of St. John’s, Dennis O’Keefe.
The mayor noted the 2012 annual general meeting of the World Energy Cities Partnership, a teaming of 19 cities worldwide facing energy-related activity, will be held in St. John’s this fall: Oct. 23-25, 2012.
Meanwhile, Oil and Gas Week 2012 events continue through Thursday.