Baker Hughes adding 600+ area jobs
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 23, 2010
12/23/10 at 8:07 AM
CLAREMORE - Baker Hughes' long-term plan to hire up to 667 skilled employees for its northeast Oklahoma manufacturing and research facilities is the biggest economic development announcement this year, state and Tulsa Metro Chamber officials said Wednesday.
The Houston-based oil-field support company released more details Wednesday about its 10-year expansion plan for its Claremore, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs and Barnsdall sites. The work force total at the company's Centrilift plant in Claremore already is 91 above its downturn level of early 2009, and Baker Hughes initially has allocated $6 million toward upgrades at that facility and in Broken Arrow.
"It underscores our commitment to Oklahoma, Claremore and the Tulsa area," Luis Moncada, vice president of artificial lift operations at Baker Hughes Inc., said during a news conference at the 300,000-square-foot Centrilift plant. The Tulsa area gives the company "access to skilled labor, a base which is vital to our operations."
State Commerce Secretary Natalie Shirley and Tulsa Metro Chamber president and CEO Mike Neal both touted the Baker Hughes expansion deal, which was a year in planning and discussion, as the biggest jobs coup statewide for 2010. Other officials said the manufacturing and engineering posts will typically pay $30,000 or well above.
"Can you think of a better Christmas present?" Neal crowed. "We've finished this year really strong."
The state Department of Commerce also detailed Baker Hughes' acceptance into the state's Quality Jobs incentive program. The company can receive up to $11.33 million in taxable payroll rebates if it hires the maximum number of positions and meets the salary and benefits thresholds over a 10-year period.
Most of the new jobs will be at Claremore and Broken Arrow. Centrilift engineers, builds and tests submersible pump systems for oil-field sites, while Broken Arrow produces valves and other safety systems.
Baker Hughes is making Claremore its company-wide "flagship" research and development center for those pumps, officials said. Development projects include a new line of high-temperature submersible pump systems for use in the Canadian tar sand developments, Moncada said. One of its testing sites is being upgraded for use at 500 degrees.
Company officials acknowledged that oil and gas industries are cyclical in nature, buoyed or depressed by rising and falling prices. Baker Hughes laid off 150 people at Claremore and Broken Arrow in February 2009.
Centrilift employment already exceeds pre-layoff levels, officials said. Broken Arrow plant manager Gary McAllister said his levels are at around 300 people - 120 below the 2008 highs - but capable of going up to 500.
Sand Springs plant manager Jim Vernon expressed the same optimism. Sand Springs and Barnsdall are blending plants for oil-field chemicals used in servicing and maintaining drilling equipment.
"Our jobs take a good year of training," Vernon said. "We're excited about this. We're definitely going to get some of the head-count increases."
Commerce officials noted that Quality Jobs recipients only receive the taxable payroll rebates retroactively once they have hired and maintained the new positions over the qualifying period. Baker Hughes can receive up to 5 percent of taxable wages returned over the decade.
State Senate President Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said the Baker Hughes commitment is proof again that Oklahoma is "open for business" while other states struggle with economic development goals.
"We're coming to get your jobs," he told the Centrilift crowd in a warning to other states.
Shirley said the Baker Hughes moves are a "perfect synergy" that connects the Tulsa area's strengths in oil, gas, manufacturing and research and development.
Original Print Headline: Baker Hughes job growth touted
Rod Walton 581-8457
Nick Hiebert, a research and development technician at the Baker Hughes Centrilift plant in Claremore, works on a high-viscosity test at the flagship facility. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
The Baker Hughes Centrilift facility in Claremore is expected to announce job openings soon. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World