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Arkansas Energy Forum Newsletter
June, 2012
In This Issue
If We Build It...
Uncovering Hidden Assets
Featured Article
Jason Rapert
Senator Jason Rapert

"Arkansas' natural gas industry has created thousands of jobs that are paying higher wages than the state's average."


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If We Build It...

An Interview with  

Senator Jason Rapert

Chairman, Fayetteville Shale Caucus


Amy Glover Bryant  



The earliest voices to influence Jason Rapert were his maternal grandparents, Conway and Pearl Jarrett. As he grew up in Randolph County, they not only taught him to play fiddle and guitar, but also how through word and deed to stand up for what he believes in, to give all praise to God and to serve with all his heart. And so he does.

            In the Arkansas Senate in 2012 "going the distance" and standing up for what he believes in for Senator Rapert means keeping the Fayetteville Shale alive, safe and profitable for the future faces of Arkansas.

            "Arkansas' natural gas industry has created thousands of jobs that are paying higher wages than the state's average," says Rapert. "Arkansas's improving economy has been a direct result of the natural gas resources found in the Fayetteville Shale. Without the revenue it is bringing in to Arkansas' economy and directly in to the pockets of hard-working Arkansans, we'd be in trouble."

            He is far from the only Arkansas leader who credits the Fayetteville Shale for Arkansas' weathering a challenging economy better than other states. In 2008, Arkansas Governor Beebe credited the stimulus being provided by the Fayetteville Shale exploration and production as a reason why Arkansas had fared better than other states during the country's economic downturn.

            One does not have to look far to witness how the Fayetteville Shale has impacted the Arkansas economy. Just take a drive through some of the counties Rapert represents.

            First stop, Conway County where a Jerusalem wife and mother recently wrote Rapert to thank him for the work he is doing in support of the Fayetteville Shale. For her family it now means that her husband no longer has to travel far from home to earn a living for their growing family. Working on the rigs in their area means he can stay at home and play a more active role in the lives of their children.

            Down to Faulkner County where Southwestern Energy recently completed construction of a new headquarters in Conway where they employ more than 100 Arkansans - a direct affect of the Fayetteville Shale. Indirect impacts of the Shale's presence in the county and the industry's investment mean people can buy or remodel homes meaning more jobs for folks like plumbers, painters and contractors. It also means a need for more groceries, clothes for children now attending Faulkner County schools and parents shopping in Conway's growing retail outlets.

            Next stop? Quitman where Arkansans are feeling blessed and more at ease as they experience financial independence for the first time due to the blessing of owning the mineral rights to their land.

            Then up to Greers Ferry, Bee Branch and back to Conway County's Nemo Vista where at least one school in each of the three counties have met the base funding of $6,000 per student required by the Arkansas Department of Education through the local revenue created by the Shale play, not state-based handouts.    





Sheryl Wade
Sheryl Wade

Uncovering Hidden Assets

Amy Glover Bryant  

and Susan Dumas



Sheryl Wade may well have had the best Mother's Day of her life in 2012. On Saturday, May 12, the day prior to Mother's Day, she crossed the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) stage to receive her bachelor's degree in Applied Sciences from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Her emphasis? Petroleum Technology.

                It has been a long road, but one she has been proud to pave for other women who will and are following in her footsteps as they pursue a career in the predominantly male career field. It's also a story she feels blessed to be able to share and one that was full of "firsts." Among them:

  • Wade was the first female roustabout intern in the Fayetteville Shale play.
  • She was one of the first female graduates of the UACCM Petroleum Technology program.
  • She was one of the first students to receive a scholarship from the Fayetteville Shale play scholarship fund.
  • Wade is the first and, perhaps, the only female field measurement technician in the Fayetteville Shale play and was the first person hired by the SEECO Measurement team in 2009.

However, all these "firsts" didn't come easy. She spent the first years of her career in customer service for an airline. When her husband retired from the airlines after 9/11 she learned first-hand how important having an advanced degree is in today's career world.

        "I cannot tell you how important it is to have a degree," said Wade. "If I had a degree, I would not have lost my job with the airlines. I had all the experience you could ask for, but no degree."



WADE continued below   

rapertcontRAPERT from above

Ease their Pain

            The good and the bad of natural gas drilling is that it has become a highly competitive market. With competition comes personal and political interests that may pre-empt the economic needs of Arkansans. After all, Arkansas isn't the only state sitting on a figurative gold mine of natural gas. Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas are just a few of the states that compete with Arkansas for the attention, jobs and revenue promised by the drilling presence of companies like Southwestern Energy, BHP Billiton and XTO Energy.

            "Today we have the lowest drilling rig count Arkansas has seen since 2006," says Rapert. "We are at a critical point in the development of the Fayetteville Shale. Due to declining prices and the threat being held out that Arkansas will raise the severance tax on natural gas, companies are going elsewhere to drill. They can afford to wait ten years to drill in Arkansas; Arkansans cannot."

            The concern Senator Rapert feels is palpable in the room when he talks about the proposed Natural Gas Severance Tax Act of 2012. After all, these are people's lives and the livelihood of Arkansas' economy we are talking about. Shale deposits are being found all over the world every day. As any good business would, these companies are trying to bring in the best deals for their shareholders. If they can't find that in Arkansas, they will elsewhere.

            "In order to capitalize on this opportunity, we need Arkansas to be an environment that encourages companies such as X, Y and Z to drill in our state and not others. This is the absolute wrong time to push for a tax increase," states Rapert. "If we increase the severance tax the entire state will suffer. This isn't a Fayetteville Shale issue alone. It is simply wrong and Arkansans are already suffering from the fear caused by it."

            Arkansans like Mike Zinser who founded Environmental Solutions & Services, Inc., or ESS in 2008 and the more than 100 Arkansans he employs. ESS offers fluid transport to drilling companies in Arkansas. That is if they are drilling in Arkansas.

            Or the Jumde family who own the Highway 65 Country Store in Damascus. They are already feeling the effects of the slow-down in Arkansas drilling and fear what will happen if workers continue to stop coming in to their store for food and supplies.


Go the Distance

            Rapert has proved himself to be an advocate of the people as Chairman of the Fayetteville Shale Caucus and practices what he preaches. In 2011, he led the fight to get Rule D-20 passed in the Arkansas Legislature which would limit the amount of noise that was acceptable within a drilling operation. According to Rapert, it was the first of its kind in the nation.

            As the leader of the Fayetteville Shale Caucus, Rapert firmly has his eyes set on the future and is ready to do what it takes to keep Arkansans employed and our environment safe.

            "I represent the needs of the people of Arkansas, not policies," states Rapert. "Nothing is more important to me than creating a state that is hospitable to both industry, Arkansas landowners and the environment."


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wadecontWADE from above

        Facing starting over at 39, it was her pastor who recommended she investigate UACCM's Petroleum Technology program and a career in the Fayetteville Shale play. Knowing she had worked as a baggage handler for Northwest Airlines, he

Sheryl and Carolyn
Sheryl and
Carolyn McGhee, Manager, Wilson Supply

knew she had the toughness and tenacity to succeed side-by-side with her male students and future colleagues.

        "It was a Godsend," says Wade. "I had fallen on hard times and really didn't know what I was going to do."   UACCM gave her the edge she needed and the opportunities she needed to not only get her foot in the door for funding her education, but also getting the internships that would give her the real-world experience and connections she would need to pursue her new career.

        "UACCM prepared us for the 'outside world'," said Wade. "When we left class and were on the job site, we knew what a well head looked like because we'd seen one in school." Classes like Mr. Lambert's also challenged her and forced her to overcome her intimidations about working in the industry.

        None of it was easy. After being out of school for twenty-plus years, her first year was predominantly spent relearning what she had forgotten and taking remedial courses. She never slowed down, taking classes in the mornings and working in the field putting baskets together in the afternoons ("baskets" are the containers full of the materials the teams would need the next day to make the "Christmas Tree" on the well head).

        She also "networked, networked, networked" and laughs that everywhere she would go, including industry trade shows, she would introduce herself to everyone and ask them what they did within the industry. This paid off in spades when she received some valuable advice from another woman who worked in the industry who advised her to give up on her plans to be a "landman" and get in to measurement because it was a detail-oriented job, was very important and one that was growing.

Sheryl and Tracy
Sheryl and
co-worker, Tracy Blakley 

And so she did.       

Now 45 years young, she belongs to a team of 22 on the SEECO measurement team in the Damascus office and loves being a follower and not a supervisor. "I enjoy being a part of a team that is working for the greater good and find that it is more challenging to me."

        In her spare time, she also gives back to the fund that helped her make it all happen by donating much of her time to fishing tournaments and golf tournaments that help fund the Fayetteville Shale Scholarship Fund. She's also working on another goal - her Master's Degree.

        She is also an ambassador for her company encouraging other women to follow in her footsteps and underscoring the importance of education. Like the mission of the company for which she works, Wade firmly believes that she was the right person, at the right time, investing in her future and creating value for herself, her family, her employer and her community.

        "This is an exciting time for me," says Wade. "I don't know what the future is going to bring but God does."



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