The One Basin One Way program has had near instant popularity with the Bakken oilfield. It’s also getting a bit of national recognition as well.
Williston State College, under which TrainND operates, is one of 30 community colleges that has been chosen as a finalist for the highly coveted Bellwether award, in the area of workforce.
The Bellwether Consortium, a think tank composed of previous Bellwether winners, annually recognizes a handful of community colleges for best practices and provides nationwide publication on a range of community college efforts to respond to modern trends.
Among considerations for the award is a program that is reproducible at other locations, according to Kenley Nebeker, Director for Technical Programs and Training at TrainND Northwest.
“Just being nominated for this is such a privilege and a great recognition,” he said. “When you consider WSC competing with more than 900 different community colleges nationwide, to be recognized in this fashion is a big deal. And it shows we are ultimately headed down the right path with our programs.”
John Miller, WSC President, described the One Basin One Way program as a unique example of workforce training that is a public-private partnership.
“In addition, the groundwork for the program was done without exterior funding, and it operates on its own from training proceeds, with no additional funding,” he said.
Nebeker credited the vision of the North Dakota Petroleum Council for the standardized training program.
“As Ronald Reagan once said, it’s amazing what you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets credit,” Nebeker said. “This is a perfect example of that at work. People, and companies, and groups coming together, not caring about who gets credit, but moving this program forward for the betterment of the industry.”
NDPC decided to pursue the program after it was learned that Bakken workers were sitting through as many as eight redundant orientation/safety sessions annually. That added up to an estimated 1.25 million wasted man hours.
The idea was to provide one safety orientation that would be accepted by a majority of the Bakken’s producers. Right now, the program is accepted by 13 oil producers, representing 55 percent of Bakken production.
In addition to improving efficiency, saving money, and providing consistent training, the program is also helping reduce travel time for Bakken workers, according to Kari Cutting, vice president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council.
Training sites are set up to be within 30 miles for every Bakken worker. TrainND covers about half the Bakken’s 32,000 workers, while the other half are split between Dickinson, Watford City, Minot, Tioga and Bismarck. The latter receive their training from the North Dakota Safety Council.
“Workforce Safety and Insurance tells us that more than 50 percent of all safety accidents for oil and gas are transportation-related,” Cutting said. “So anything that takes people off the road and reduces the miles they are traveling will help reduce accidents.”
Cutting believes the training could also help prevent other types of accidents, by providing more consistent safety training across the Bakken, because other industries that have implemented standardized safety training have seen improved safety stats.
“It’s too early to tell on safety stats,” she added. “But we are tracking the total incident rate to see if we can see improvements.”
The 13 production companies signed up so far are Brewen, Crestwood, Enerplus, Equinor, Hunt, Hess, Kraken, Oasis, ONEOK, QEP, Whiting, WPX Energy and XTO.
Cutting said she is working on getting other large producers to join, such as Continental and ConocoPhillips. She hopes the Bellwether Award will help those efforts.
So far, with just seven months on the books, One Basin One Way has 1,300 contractors signed up and has trained 11,532 contractor employees.
It has logged more than 17,000 student profiles in all.
“For 2020, we are expecting another 20,000 to go through this orientation program,” Cutting said.
Nebeker, meanwhile, said One Basin One Way isn’t resting on its laurels. It’s already going through internal audits to identify improvements it can make to the training.
Nebeker is also working with a California company to develop an annual refresher course for the program, which will be unveiled soon.
“From there, heaven only knows,” Nebeker said. “One Basin One Way is really looking at different ways within training within industry that we can gain efficiency so people can be out in the field safer and more efficiently,” he said. “The sky is the limit on what we could end up doing form here.”