Chesapeake Creates Hands-On Rig Training Center in Bradford PA

Chesapeake Oilfield Services has just launched a hands-on training program at its Eastern Housing Center and Training Facility in Athens Township (Bradford County), PA. They’ve installed a working drilling rig at the facility to give new hires real-world, hands-on training. The primary aim of the facility is to teach new workers safe work habits while learning how to handle rig equipment. In addition to the rig, a water transfer system has also been installed to teach workers how to safely and efficiently deliver water from its source to the drilling site, especially in sub-freezing temperature.

Chesapeake opened the 36,960-square-foot Athens facility in November 2010 to house and train employees of its subsidiaries. Prior to the installation of $1.3 million worth of equipment about two weeks ago, training primarily consisted of classroom sessions that focused on safety and environmental regulations. New hires were typically sent to Arkansas for introductory field worker operations training.

The Athens facility will provide a training site for local gas field workers hired by Chesapeake, said Kimberlee Smithton, director of training for Chesapeake Oilfield Services. New employees will receive instruction on the drilling rigs in a controlled learning environment before experiencing live situations in the gas fields.

"When operations began in this area, we had to rely on our existing work force from other parts of the country to ensure that our operations were safe," Smithton said.

But as Chesapeake’s local gas drilling operations grew — the company is Bradford County’s largest leaseholder in the Marcellus Shale play and employs more than 1,000 Pennsylvanians — it saw the need to develop a skilled local work force to complement those transferring from out-of-area worksites.

The new rig worker training programs at the Athens facility are expected to begin early next year. The training curriculum is being developed and plans call for establishing classes of eight to 12 people who will spend a week at the Athens facility before receiving their work assignments.*

*Elmira Star-Gazette (Nov 7, 2011) – Drillers’ training camp goes live