Oil-related companies on North Dakota hiring blitzes

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BISMARCK, N.D. — One company in the Bakken wants to hire 300 employees by spring.

Oil-related companies in North Dakota's oil patch are on hiring blitzes as work shifts from exploration to production.

Power Fuels, a subsidiary of Nuverra Environmental Solutions and one of the largest oil field service companies in the Bakken, put out its call for 300 new employees going into the holidays.

“We’re excited to significantly boost our employee base in response to the growing demand among energy industry customers for our services,” said Mark Johnsrud, Nuverra’s chief executive officer, in a statement.

Cindy Sanford, Job Service’s Williston, N.D., customer service manager, said even mid-size companies are hiring, needing 30, 50 or 80 new people.

“We’re starting to get a lot of job orders,” she said. “Come January we’re really going to get hit.”

Needed employees range from commercially licensed truck drivers and mechanics to support services positions in accounts payable, rental billing, credit and collections, information technology, and human resources.

The increase in production has brought need to other industries as well, such as trucking, rail, pipelines and gas plants.

“BNSF is hiring a ton of new people,” Sanford said. “2014 is going to be a busy year.”

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said with 8,000 wells on the ground now, companies have to have the manpower to service all of them every day.

“It’s reaching the point that production is getting as big as exploration-type jobs,” he said.

Sanford said the biggest increase in demand has been for well operators or wellhead pumpers.

According to the National Labor Exchange website, the need for wellhead pumpers has gone up 399 percent over the last year. The need for service unit employees increased 135 percent. These positions are long-term jobs on the production side of oil and gas as opposed to the more temporary positions needed for drilling.

Sanford said the type of people needed to fill these positions are mechanically inclined skilled laborers looking for a long-term career. They will need to live near the well sites and have nearly spotless driving records, she said. As more laborers are hired, more managers will be needed as well.

Though exploration has begun to peak, Ness said there are still drilling jobs out there as companies go back to drill more wells on existing well sites.

The difference is drilling has become more methodical and less of a rush than it was at the beginning of the boom when stakes were being claimed.

The need for derrick operators is up 160 percent over last year, and companies added about 10 drilling rigs to the fleet in the state over the past several months, Ness said.

Sanford said lots of fracking companies also are looking for help.