Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Employee Shortages Fuel Russian Immigration To The American Oilpatch

A while ago I mentioned the importation of Chinese workers to help fill demands for American exploration companies. Now the Russians are the latest labor pool to be tapped:
Five years ago, Kris Grimland read a story about aerospace company Lockheed Martin Corp. hiring Russian computer technicians to bulk up its employee pool.

"I said, 'Hey, Russia has the largest oil field in the world,'" said Grimland, general manager of Maverick Stimulation Co. LLC, an Englewood-based oil and gas industry service firm that helps operators get natural gas flowing from the ground to the pipeline.

Maverick, which has offices in Colorado and Oklahoma, was growing rapidly but couldn't find enough workers, and had to leave several jobs unfilled for nearly two years. That's despite advertising in trade journals and local newspapers. Grimland thought Russians, experienced in oil field work, could solve his problem.

Two months later, in July 2000, Grimland was in Krasnyarsk, Russia, in southern Siberia, interviewing hundreds of men eager to pick up and move to the United States for work.

"It was 8 a.m. in the morning and the line was half a mile long of people wanting to talk," Grimland said. That year, Maverick sponsored six Russians on visas to work on its rigs.

"The language barrier is tough; our people don't speak Russian," Grimland said. "But we overcame it because our business is numbers and the numbers are the same. It doesn't take much to learn the word for pressure."