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Kathy Hill was born in Southampton, Pennsylvania outside of northeast Philadelphia. Hill attended Penn State University to study engineering, and with some influence from her school advisor, she enrolled in the petroleum engineering program. With no family ties in the oil and gas industry, this program appealed to Hill as the career opportunities were described as working both outside and in an office, which she saw as being the best of both worlds. Once in the program, the curriculum was a good fit for Hill and she enjoyed the geology, engineering, and math and science coursework.
After graduating from Penn State with a degree in petroleum engineering, Hill continued moving westward and found her first job in Belpre, Ohio working for Quaker State. Ohio would remain home as Hill continued to build her career in the oil and gas industry. Quaker State had wells in Ohio and West Virginia and Hill started in the production department.
Her first field experience was in Ashland County, where she was assigned to the Red Haw Water Flood project, which Hill found to be a great place to start out. This was exciting because it included a comprehensive introduction to the industry. Hill found herself working with field personnel in the maintenance of injection and producing wells. She also got involved in new drilling projects and dealt with spacing producers and injection wells for good water flood flow. All of this allowed her to learn the operations of the business and see drilling projects all the way through to completion. Hill described the most interesting part of this role and time period was seeing wells being shot with nitroglycerin.
Early on Hill was faced with the ebbs and flows of the industry and found herself looking for a new position as the industry was entering a downturn. The next step for her was working for small local producers around Marietta. The following 16 years gave Hill the full experience of how oil and gas companies function. She experienced everything from oil and gas production monitoring, gas marketing nominations, workovers, drilling and completions, all the way to planning joint ventures with other companies. Hill felt it was the right time to move on just as shale drilling started happening in Ohio, thinking her employer was likely to sell to a larger company.
Hill started working for Ergon Oil Purchasing, Inc. in 2013 as a crude buyer covering southern Ohio and areas in West Virginia. The main facets of this role are managing customer accounts including purchasing, trucking, and proper payment; all in an effort to supply Ergon’s West Virginia refinery. Hill meets with the seller and gets a list of the tanks they want hauled, assigns a tank’s number, and then goes to the site to actually strap the tank. Strapping a tank entails measuring the circumference, doing calculations to determine the volume so that they get paid correctly, and includes directions and detailed information for that tank. She will then work a number of haulers including Ergon Trucking, BD Oil Gathering, Oil Haulers, EnLink and Energy Transportation to coordinate hauling schedules.
“It is nice working for Ergon to work with producers; I get to see what they’re doing and discuss the industry,” said Hill. “I feel like I’m able to give them good service, because I understand what they’re going through since I’ve also been on that side of the business. Ergon has been a great company to work for, they treat all their employees like family.”
This role has brought Hill’s career in the oil business full-circle, from starting out on drilling projects all the way to completion, to now being on the service and purchasing end. In her role as a crude buyer she works closely with the other branches of Ergon, specifically with Ergon Trucking and Ergon Terminaling. The transitioning from many years in the production side has been an adjustment and Hill is glad to still be able to work with the same group of people and build strong relationships. Hill brings a high level of knowledge and experience in the industry that she’s able to bring to the purchasing role, if a customer is experiencing a problem she’s able to help solve it.
Ergon’s operations have continued to expand with the needs of the industry. As shale drilling started in this region, Ergon expanded from hauling PennGrade oil and now also hauls condensate. One of the greatest changes Hill has witnessed in the industry has been shale drilling, and the enormous scale of the new drilling operations from what she was previously used to.
“When I started strapping tanks for Utica shale companies, it amazed me because the service roads were extremely well done, and the tank pads are huge,” described Hill. “I was used to going for a PennGrade customer and strapping one or two tanks, now I go to these sites and there can be upwards of 14 tanks to strap.”
Hill has been a longtime member of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, first joining when she worked at Quaker State. Over the years she’s been able to stay involved with many of the small companies she worked for. Even though the industry crosses different areas, Hill likes that it has a small community feel and that she is able to keep in touch through networking and OOGA events.
When Hill was new and just starting out in the industry, the OOGA was a huge learning tool. The meetings and technical sessions really helped to demonstrate to her how the business fit in Ohio. In addition to OOGA events and seminars, she also mentioned how she was able to learn so much from the new people she’s met within the Association.
“The Association has helped me stay in touch with people in the industry, through my career transitions and time away while starting a family,” said Hill. “That was really important to me, I feel lucky I was able to stay employed and in touch with this group of people in the industry.”
Ergon is involved with the OOGA and Hill says the company greatly enjoys all that the Association does for its members. Ergon finds benefits in the annual events where they get to catch up with current customers, while also networking with new people and getting exposure to new customers. The Association also helps them learn about what everyone is doing in the industry and causes them to think about ways to improve the business. Hill feels that the oil and gas business has been a great industry for her to build her career within.