GarCo attracts 200 jobs in energy

A deal with Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. is bringing a new well-services company and a projected 200 jobs to the Rifle area.

Houston-based Bayou Well Services opened a location on U.S. Highway 6 east of Rifle and already hired about 70 field workers and office staff, company Vice President Brad Sears said. He expects about 150 workers will be employed by year’s end and around 200 by the first or second quarter of next year.

Bayou Well Services was lured by a five-year deal to provide services to Encana. Encana spokesman Doug Hock said Bayou is dedicating a certain amount of trucks and equipment to Encana’s operations. Sears said Bayou Well Services will pursue business with other local energy companies and hopes to remain in the area for decades.

The deal between Bayou and Encana is resulting from a shortage of energy-service companies in the area.

“They’re just really in high demand,” Hock said.

When local drilling activity dropped off sharply a few years ago, energy companies that continued to drill benefited from a drop in the prices for hydraulic fracturing and other well services as providers competed for the remaining business. However, some service companies left the area to chase lucrative oil development projects, such as in North Dakota, and booming natural gas drilling in areas such as the northeastern United States.

Hock said Encana uses Bayou Well Services in Louisiana, too, and the local deal aims to guarantee that Encana will have the crews it needs available to it.

“Our agreement with Encana, what we’re trying to provide them is a long-term, stable relationship where we’re in the community for not just a boom-and-bust cycle, but for decades,” Sears said.

The deal reinforces Encana’s stated intention of continuing to remain active in local gas development.

“As we’ve said all along, the Piceance Basin is a key resource for us and will continue to be so,” Hock said. “This is another indication that we intend to be a long-term player in the Piceance Basin and continue to see a steady level of activity.”

Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who was elected in November on a jobs-based campaign platform and generally supports natural gas development, welcomed news of Bayou’s arrival.

He said he asked Bayou to hire locally as much as possible to help reduce local unemployment rates. Garfield County’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 10.7 percent in March.

Sears said about 30 percent of the workers hired to date live in the area, and the rest had lived in places such as Rifle and Grand Junction but were forced to take oil and gas jobs in other states.

“They’re actually local or regional people that we’re excited to move home,” he said.

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