16K participate in new oil safety training; advocates push for greater contractor voice

Steve Braden presented a history of the One Basin-One Way program at the North Dakota Safety Council annual conference on Monday at the Bismarck Event Center. Braden is chairman of the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s One Basin-One Way Committee

More than 16,000 people have completed a new program meant to streamline oilfield safety training in the Bakken.

Those involved in the One Basin-One Way program praised it Monday at a North Dakota Safety Council conference in Bismarck, though several conference attendees said they wish contractors who work under oil producers could have more of a seat at the table to guide the initiative.

The program aims to consolidate numerous individual oilfield safety topics into a single program. The initiative offers a four-hour standardized orientation program that 13 producers, pipeline and processing companies require for workers, according to people involved.

“Many of these contractors were coming into these orientations and hearing all the same things,” said Steve Braden, who works for Hess and serves as chairman of the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s One Basin-One Way Committee.

The 13 partners employ numerous contractors to facilitate various jobs in the oilfields. Collectively, the 13 companies produce more than half of the oil extracted in North Dakota, Braden said.

The program is the product of a partnership between the petroleum council, safety council, TrainND Northwest at Williston State College and Diamond B, which developed software used for the initiative.

One Basin-One Way is paid for by fees from participants, and the training is offered in Williston, Watford City, Dickinson, Minot, Bismarck and Fargo, as well as through private classes administered on-site.

“We wanted to make sure that our contractors had an easy way to get to it, that they didn’t have to travel from Dickinson to Watford City,” Braden said.

Twice since the training began in June 2019, contractors have been kicked off a work site because they had not gone through the class, said Kenley Nebeker, director for technical programs with TrainND Northwest. That happened recently to a company based in Sidney, Mont.

“We were able to put that together in a 45-minute turnaround and get our trainer over there,” Nebeker said.

Alma Cook, owner of Williston-based Cook Compliance Solutions, said in an interview that a situation like that tends to be the result of a lack of communication between a contractor and producer.

‘It’s a problem’

“You have a whole crew of people that can’t work that day,” she said. “You can’t generate revenue for your company. It’s a problem for everybody, including the producer.”

Cook helps contractors navigate producers’ expectations on matters such as safety certifications to both keep employees safe and help them look more attractive to producers. Contractors can range in size from large corporations to small companies with just a few employees that lack the staff to juggle the various administrative demands of the producers they work for, she said.

A pressing issue

During the conference, she raised the issue of some producers not only requiring contractors to go through the One Basin-One Way program, but still making them attend their own separate orientations.

Braden said that’s true at Hess, as there are some rules specific to the company that he wants contractors to know. But, he said, a lot of companies have similar rules, and One Basin-One Way is talking about how to “bring those under one umbrella” in a standardized training to reduce redundancy.

Each training takes up contractors’ time and money, which is problematic when they are duplicative, Cook said.

“This is part of a broader trend of the contractors not being considered the same way the producers are being considered,” she said.

She said the situation could improve, as more contractors become members of the petroleum council to receive a discount on the One Basin-One Way training.

Cook has taken the One Basin-One Way training. She said it’s well done, fun and engaging with “a variety of activities that keep people from falling asleep.”

Joan Sammon, a business adviser who works with contractors, said her business, OG360, is planning to do a survey of contractors for feedback on the One Basin-One Way program and broader issues surrounding their work with producers.

She said her goal isn’t to make anyone feel attacked, but to help make sure contractors’ viewpoints are seen.

As One Basin-One Way progresses, Braden said, those involved want feedback to keep it a quality program. They are working on a 40-minute computer-based refresher course for participants to take a year after the initial orientation.

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