Stalker settling in at Williams

Ryan Stalker was recently appointed Operations Supervisor-South for Williams Field Services’ Tunkhannock office. STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER

BY ROBERT L. BAKER

Just a couple of years ago, Ryan Stalker was helping Lackawanna College map out a new gas technology program – the first of its kind east of the Mississippi – that tapped into training needs for the Marcellus gas industry.

As of May 1, Stalker has been in the midst of that industry recently being hired as Operations Supervisor-South for Williams’ Midstream assets working out of the Tunkhannock office.

The ‘South’ component, Stalker noted recently, focuses on three compressor stations and the gathering lines headed in and out of them.

The Teel station has been online for a couple of years, but in the works by this fall are the Wilcox Station on Shupp Hill in Tunkhannock Township and the feeder Springville Gathering Line going from Springville Township in Susquehanna County to it and on to Dallas Township, Luzerne County and the Transco pipeline, which is also owned by Williams.

Also in the works, if all goes as planned, is another compressor station – dubbed the Zick Station – which will be located near the Mountain View schools in Susquehanna County, and the supporting pipeline that goes with getting gas in the eastern part of that county to market.

At 27, Stalker is a high enthusiasm kind of guy whose job will be to oversee a staff of seven who operate and maintain the three compressor stations once they’re in place as well as the gathering lines.

“Our concern is with through-put, how well the systems are working,” Stalker said.

“Optimization will be key, and I’ll be working with customers to help them meet their target production goals.”

On July 8, he was excited that Williams had reached a record 439 million cubic feet of gas that it was moving via its Midstream assets to the Tennessee Gas pipeline from approximately 60 wells.

Although he wasn’t quite yet dreaming of how that number might shift once the other systems are in place, Stalker said it is exciting to be a part of the Marcellus shale play.

Asked about a typical day, Stalker said there is no such animal.

He said his morning likely will get started before he leaves home in New Milford where he will probably be checking flow numbers on his laptop.

While he will be sorting out making sure known targets for the day are met, he will also be engaged in special projects, navigating with other folks in the Tunkhannock office and helping them address their needs.

He said that while he will be able to monitor a vast network of gas flows from the Tunkhannock office when he’s in it, the company’s Tulsa, Okla., office will be doing likewise on a 24-7 basis, alerting him where there are issues.

He noted that the company also had an emergency backup in Broken Arrow, Okla., just in case that were needed.

“A good day will be when all systems are working well,” Stalker said.

While the construction phase is underway, Stalker said it is important for his technicians to beef up their training on certain pieces of equipment “so we know it all well, when the day comes to put it all online.”

He noted that although the Marcellus Shale is huge, it is not as daunting a task to stay on top of it as one might imagine.

Williams has been around for a long time and has addressed the same types of issues he will be facing elsewhere.

He said it was interesting that when he is out doing community outreach and talks about the Transco pipeline having been there for decades, people will say, to him, “I forgot your pipeline was even there.”

“With us moving so much gas, I think it’s a good thing that we don’t get noticed,” he said. That’s the way we like it.”

But, he also acknowledged that when people have questions, “we also need to be about answering them.”

“Our good neighbor policy dictates that we keep the public informed,” Stalker said.

“We have reached out in this region, and we want to define ourselves in northeast Pennsylvania as being open and transparent, because we’re a part of this community, too. Our pipelines are a long-term commitment.”