It takes a special kind of ruggedness combined with intelligence to call the Bakken your home. The oilfields of the Bakken are an unforgiving workplace that can, at times, be very dangerous. Training and learning to do a job precisely is key to success in this environment. Although accidents have decreased significantly since the end of the last big boom, the Bakken still needs highly trained professionals to keep the fuel that powers the world flowing out.
The Bakken produces approximately 1,685 barrels a day according to the US Drilling Productivity Report and a good portion of that production comes from workover rigs. These are rigs that operate already established wells, regulating the pressure of the oil flow as a well goes through its life cycle. Workover rigs also maintain the wells, deal with any damage caused by the elements and will most likely be responsible for capping the well once it’s finished. These crews are usually the first people to deal with OSHA when accidents happen and they are the people on the ground that make sure that everything runs smoothly so that you and I can drive our cars to work every day.
Train ND is bringing back a program to train a new generation of workover crews how to safely operate this vital stage of the oil production process. This Floorhand Certification Program will address the lack of workover crews, first brought to the attention of Watford City Community & Business Development Director Vawnita Best by the folks at J&J Rental.The training program had been retired five years earlier but the structure for the program still existed. Vawnita then set out to write a grant application in partnership with the city of Watford City, Kenly Nebeker at Train ND NW and the Bakken Area Skills Center in Watford City. “The bottleneck right now in production is workover capacity,” said Best, of the situation, she continued, “then workover divisions were telling me that they have equipment stacked right now because they don’t have the people to operate the rigs… they will be the people starting the wells back up that were closed after Covid.”
On Thursday, Vawnita and her team went to Watford City High School to talk to students about this new program. With college debt becoming more of an open talking point in our society, soon-to-be working adults are shying away from the expensive burden of four year universities in favor of shorter education and training programs that can get them working faster for good money without the debt. In 1960, only 7.7% of US citizens graduated from college, in 2020, that number was over 37% but only half of those graduates end up working in exactly the field they went to college for. This summer, in a two week program, recent high school graduates will earn their floor hand certification then they will receive instruction on forming a resume and help finding a job in their new careers. This multifaceted course can offer students a faster way to being a trained and contributing member of society.
This training program has one main priority however: safety. Kenly Nebeker at Train ND NW can’t stress enough how important teaching people how to do these jobs safely really is. “This program is about giving people the skills that they need to be confident when they go to work, be safe at work and most importantly, come home at the end of their shift. We’re really going to be focusing on safety and how to keep everyone around you safe too.” This program isn’t limited to recent high school graduates, anyone displaced in the job market from Covid or just looking to change career paths are encouraged to apply for the program. The work is out there for those who want it and want to do it safely.