OKLAHOMA CITY—What’s the biggest challenge today in natural gas processing? It’s not the gas itself or the technology used to clean it and extract the related NGL. Rather, it’s the people—or lack of them—to do the work.

That was a major topic of discussion Nov. 13 in a roundtable focused on “Getting the Most from Gas” during a midstream technical forum, part of Hart Energy’s 6th annual DUG Midcontinent Conference and Exhibition.

“The workforce is a tremendous challenge for us,” said Geoff Hager, owner and general manager of Tulsa-based Big Elk Energy Systems. He described his concern that energy business careers aren’t considered by many high school and college students—even in energy-rich Oklahoma. “There’s a perception that it’s a dirty business. We’ve gone to high school students interested in both four-year and vocational degrees” to discuss career opportunities and the industry’s comparatively good wage scales. The potential for well-paying jobs usually gets students’ attention, he noted.