Baker Hughes invests about $120 million in facilities

Baker Hughes, an international oil-field services company, has invested about $120 million in facilities in the state of North Dakota in the past 20 months, says the facilities director for the new Minot Joint Facility.

Warren Wilson said Baker Hughes has been in North Dakota on a small entity basis all along. Then last year it opened its Dickinson facility, about a $25 million facility.

He said the company also constructed a $35 million facility in Williston.

“That was just barely out of the ground when the Minot facility started,” Wilson said. He said he doesn’t know the final price tag yet for the Minot facility because it isn’t done. “But it’s probably around $27 million to $30 million that the company has invested.”

Right after the grand opening of the Williston facility this past fall, he said the company broke ground for a second facility in Williston across the street from the first one and it will be another $35 million facility when it opens. It will open about in May.

Wilson spoke to members of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Committee Jan. 24 at the Vegas Motel in Minot.

Born and raised in Bismarck, Wilson moved to Minot with his family when he was quite young. His dad, the late Stan Wilson, who worked for NBC and also as a deejay for KFYR-Radio, was transferred to Minot to build KMOT-TV and Z-94 radio. The Wilson family also co-founded the Souris Valley Humane Society in Minot.

Warren Wilson, who spent a number of years in facilities management with YMCAs, returned to North Dakota from Boise, Idaho, where he had managed the YMCA association.

He and his wife, the former Kim Benest of Minot, returned to Minot about a year ago to help friends and family rebuild their homes after the Souris River flood. He joined Baker Hughes in mid-2012.

The Baker Hughes facility in Minot is a 24-hour, seven days a week operation, he said.

“We’re not on top of the rigs or in the rigs or swinging pipe out there. That’s not what we do. We are a service provider for all the equipment that the rigs use to drill,” Wilson said.

“So Baker Hughes employees are not on the platforms or on the drilling rigs but we work side by side with all the companies and agencies. We are ultimately the support system for equipment and technology for all of the oil companies,” he added.

“The Minot facility is a little bit different. We’ve got five entities of Baker Hughes under one roof in Minot, North Dakota, which is very rare,” Wilson said. “Most of Williston, Dickinson and in and around the country where the facilities are built, they usually take one or two entities under the Baker Hughes’ umbrella and house them. Minot, North Dakota, is the first facility in the northern part of the country to house all five divisions of Baker Hughes under one roof so we cover everything right here.”

Baker Hughes people travel quite extensively in the state.”We work out of this facility but we’ll travel all the way to western North Dakota Watford City, Dickinson area,” he said.

He said the oil (development) is gradually moving east.

“We’ve pretty well set our sights on being able to house a lot of the movement of the oil field and the exploration and the drilling of all the rigs coming east. We’re kind of right in the crosshairs of where the oil is coming,” he said, adding, “We’re pretty well strategically prepared.

Right now, he said, there’s about 140 employees at the Minot facility. “And we’re still under construction but soon to be fully operational.” He said they’ll probably add about 100 more employees to the Minot facility by summer.

Wilson said many employees are coming from out of state, but for some who are from the warmer climates, they leave when they get a taste of winter weather here. He said jobs with Baker Hughes are advertised worldwide on its website.

Wilson said every employee of Baker Hughes across the entire state is fully tested for alcohol and drugs “all the way down to drug testing of taking your hair, blood testing the whole nine yards. ” He said everyone is subject to random alcohol and drug tests every 60 days and the test is dropped on people continuously,” he said.

“I commend them for spending the money to watch out for safety because that’s what it’s about. Some of these jobs are pretty tough and they have to remain safe,” Wilson said.