Oxy rethinking value of man camps north of DeBeque
An energy company has come away unenthused after experimenting with the use of man camps to house employees at natural gas drilling sites.Oxy USA WTP LP, which helped revive the use of man camps locally by the energy industry, has found it challenging to comply with the conditions of approval for them and also may not need them as much these days, a company official told county commissioners Tuesday.Still, Oxy regulatory coordinator Daniel Padilla said the company isn’t ready to give up on the use of the camps altogether.”I guess we’d like to keep it open as something in our back pocket to utilize,” he said.Oxy and other companies have been pursuing the use of man camps at drilling sites as a way to cut down on long commutes by workers and the need for them to find housing in a region with a housing shortage.Oxy, which operates north of DeBeque, received permission in 2006 to install eight to 10 small “camper parks” consisting of two to four camper trailers per park, with each one holding three to 10 people. It ended up operating three parks.Padilla said the camps turned out to be a learning experience for Oxy.”Ensuring that our contractors complied with conditions proved difficult,” he said.At the company’s invitation, the county inspected the camps and found problems such as a puncture on a sewer vault, unsecured sewer lids and propane tanks, and use of garden hoses to provide water for drinking.”Oxy promptly rectified the deficiencies,” Padilla said.Oxy also housed workers in recreational vehicles, and discovered that they were more vulnerable than modular units to damage by bears in search of food, Padilla said.He said the company learned that it needed to provide health, environment and safety oversight of the facilities, and hired personnel to provide it. It also found that it needed improved communications with the county regarding its man camp operations.In addition, it learned that it needed to standardize documentation for properly setting up and operating the camps, and had to develop associated inspection forms and programs.Padilla said one reason the camps aren’t so necessary for Oxy is because it was using them to house people involved with well fracturing and completion operations. Oxy since has been working to automate those operations, such as by installing water pipelines to wells for well completions, to reduce the need for water truck trips.Some other local energy developers have been using man camps to house crews doing well drilling. They typically have used modular units rather than RVs.Oxy didn’t use man camps at all this year, Padilla said.County Commissioner Larry McCown pointed out that the county has been working to streamline its regulations regarding man camps since Oxy first obtained permission to use them.”This was our first whack at this. We may have overengineered a bit,” he told Padilla. “I would expect to see a less convoluted (regulatory) system.”Contact Dennis Webb: email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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