Energy companies reaching out to workers

As oil and natural gas producers expand their operations into new areas, they are facing increasing challenges in finding qualified workers.
by Jay F. Marks Published: June 15, 2012

Susan Matthews, SandRidge's director of recruiting and retention, said the company has drilling rig crews living in mobile housing while they're on the job, usually seven days on and then seven days off.

That way it doesn't matter where workers call home.

“They can live anywhere,” she said.

Matthews said SandRidge, which currently operates 25 Mississippian rigs, has benefitted from changes in activity elsewhere in the oil and gas industry.

The company saw an influx of workers from Louisiana after the 2009 BP oil spill idled exploration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, she said. More recently, low gas prices led companies to shut down rigs in natural gas plays in Arkansas and Texas, freeing up workers for SandRidge.

Some have even taken advantage of the ongoing development operations in Oklahoma and Kansas to come back to this area from other parts of the country.

“They're excited to come back here,” she said.

Matthews said SandRidge's name recognition as a leader in the Mississippian has helped lure workers as well.

“We're always looking for talented folks,” she said.

In Canada, Devon is caught up in an arms race of sorts as operators rush to offer more amenities to potential workers, officials said.

The company is building a $111 million lodge at Jackfish with room for 880 workers.

The camp, which is expected to be completed by November, will have a gym, movie theater, two squash courts, two hockey rinks, baseball diamond, full-service dining room and 10 dorms with 88 beds in each. Each room will have its own private bathroom.

Devon Canada President Chris Seasons said the company is looking to bring in workers from “all across the West.”

“Have a competitive camp is essential,” he said.

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by Jay F. Marks
Energy Reporter
Jay F. Marks has been covering Oklahoma news since graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1996. He worked in Sulphur and Enid before joining The Oklahoman in 2005. Marks has been covering the energy industry since 2009.
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