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Teachers spend part of summer learning about Oklahoma's oil industry

An Oklahoma Energy Resources Board program showed a group of state teachers how companies drill for oil and natural gas.
By Jay F. Marks, Business Writer Modified: June 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm •  Published: June 21, 2014


photo - 
Kellyville Elementary School teachers Alysa Ernst and Tonja Holcomb tour a Marathon Oil Co. drilling rig near Velma on Friday.
  David McDaniel - 
The Oklahoman
Kellyville Elementary School teachers Alysa Ernst and Tonja Holcomb tour a Marathon Oil Co. drilling rig near Velma on Friday. David McDaniel - The Oklahoman

Dozens of Oklahoma teachers continued their oil-field education Friday with tours of a drilling rig and a production site operated by Marathon Oil Co.

The events were part of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board Educators’ Retreat, which allows a select group of teachers to further their understanding of the state’s oil and natural gas industry.

The program, which is offered every other year, is open to teachers who are interested in expanding their use of OERB’s curriculum in their classrooms, education director Carla Schaeperkoetter said.

Eighty-one teachers emerged from more than 200 applicants for this year’s program, which included three days of activities and site visits designed to show them how the industry operates.

“It’s been a whirlwind of activity,” Schaeperkoetter said.

The group visited Valero Energy Corp.’s refinery in Ardmore on Wednesday and dug for fossils in Sulphur on Thursday before heading to Stephens County on Friday to learn about how Marathon produces oil and natural gas.

Wade Hutchings, regional vice president of Marathon’s Mid-Continent asset team, said it costs the company about $11 million to drill and complete a well in the SCOOP, or South Central Oklahoma Oil Province.

The Stephens County well that was part of Friday’s tour is expected to produce about 2 million barrels of oil equivalent over its lifetime.

Hutchings said the U.S. consumes about 18 million barrels of oil a day, so energy companies must work hard to satisfy that demand.

At the well site north of Velma, teachers clad in fire-proof clothing, safety glasses and hard hats they had decorated with stickers, learned about the drilling process from a handful of Marathon employees about how a drilling rig works. Several workers from Hughes Christensen showed them a number of different drill bits.

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Since 1996

Since OERB offered its first education program in 1996, it has shared its curriculum with more than 12,000 teachers. The board has provided materials to about 95 percent of the state’s school districts.

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