Energy services firms adding staff

Calfrac, BJ Services expect uptick in natural gas development this year

Two energy services firms in Grand Junction are adding staff in anticipation of an uptick in natural gas development in western Colorado this year.

Calfrac Well Services will boost its local work force by 10 percent, said Jon Konrad, the company’s well-fracturing manager in Grand Junction.

“There is going to be increased activity with some of our customers, and that’s what we’re gearing up for,” Konrad said. “Industry appears to be increasing activity, and some of the service companies may potentially be doing more hiring.”

Meanwhile, BJ Services in Grand Junction is taking applications for equipment operators, according to Brandi McCullough, a dispatcher for the company. She said those are new positions, but she didn’t know how many positions are being added. Her company now employs around 50 people locally, McCullough said.

Representatives for Halliburton and Schlumberger, two other energy services companies with local operations, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Konrad said growth in local activity may reflect a recent rise in natural gas prices.

“Demand is up, price is up, and that will allow some more activity,” he said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in mid-December that cold temperatures in much of the country the first half of the month resulted in large storage withdrawals and higher prices during periods of peak demand. Falling gas prices were a key factor in western Colorado’s drilling slowdown starting in 2008.

Konrad declined to identify which Calfrac customers plan to expand energy development efforts for 2010.

Projections by energy companies to date suggest overall drilling rig numbers in the region should change little this year.

Williams Production RMT plans to add three rigs and may add a fourth, spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said.

EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. has not yet made a final decision on its local 2010 program, but spokesman Doug Hock said Thursday he expects it to be about the same as in 2009.

“We averaged four or five rigs. We anticipate that our level of activity (this year) would be very similar to that,” he said.

ExxonMobil intends to maintain a “continued, measured pace of development” in Rio Blanco County, where it was operating six rigs as of late 2009, Piceance Project Executive Jim Branch has said.

Chevron has no immediate plans to resume its suspended local drilling program, company spokeswoman Cary Baird said.

Occidental Petroleum will resume drilling with one rig.

Noble Energy and Laramie Energy are running one rig apiece and say they hope to continue operating at that level throughout the year, although Laramie has said it may have to lay down its rig.

Bill Barrett Corp. plans to operate two rigs south of Silt, down from three in late 2009.


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