Devon developing long-term work plan for oil sands
Monday, June 18, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp. is developing a 10-year plan to ensure it has enough workers for its operations in Canada's oil sands.
The company is pumping about 50,000 barrels per day at two facilities in Alberta and is building a third. It also is jointly developing another site with BP.
Kelly Hansen, operations manager at Devon's Jackfish 2 site, said the company has attracted workers from across Alberta but also has pulled in labor from more distant areas, including British Columbia, Canada and Reno, Nev.
"The (labor) markets are essentially tapped out so we need to essentially reach out farther and wider to get quality people," Hansen said.
Devon and other companies have at times struggled to find workers to staff their operations in areas that haven't traditionally been home to oil and natural gas development.
"When we enter a new area — particularly one without much previous oil and natural gas activity — we start by assessing the job candidate pool and adjust our recruiting approaches accordingly," said Kip Welch, director of recruitment for Chesapeake Energy Corp. "In new areas, we typically utilize job fairs to identify candidates for most positions, specifically those in the field."
Welch told The Oklahoman (http://is.gd/V4wZAQ) that the company has extensive training programs so that workers are ready to do their jobs once they are turned loose.
Susan Matthews, recruiting and retention director for SandRidge Energy Inc., said the company has had to look afar to recruit workers as it develops its acreage in parts of the Mississippian oil play, which extends from northern Oklahoma into southern Kansas.
Matthews said the drilling rig crews living in mobile housing while they're on the job, usually seven days on and then seven days off. That way, they don't have to change their personal residence.
"They can live anywhere," she said.
SandRidge has 25 rigs operating in the Mississippian play, and Matthews said the company has benefitted from changes in activity elsewhere in the oil and gas industry. After the BP oil spill resulted in workers being let go when Gulf of Mexico exploration was idled, SandRidge was able to take on some of them.
Likewise, she said the company picked up workers when natural gas prices plunged and drilling slowed in Arkansas and Texas.
Matthews said some workers were originally from Oklahoma and Kansas and were happy to return home to work in the Mississippian play.
"They're excited to come back here," she said.
Devon is taking a different approach to housing. The company is building a $111 million lodge at Jackfish that will house 880 workers.
The camp is expected to open in the fall. It will have two hockey rinks, a baseball diamond, a gym, movie theater and other amenities. Each room will have its own private bathroom. Ten dorms will house 88 people each.
Competing companies are working to attract workers by offering better living conditions.
"Have a competitive camp is essential," Devon Canada President Chris Seasons said.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com