Acadiana Business

Weatherford consolidation under way?

by Leslie Turk

The oilfield services giant is adding 55,000 square feet behind its existing facility off U.S. Hwy. 90, which could be the beginning of a major consolidation of area operations.

Sources with knowledge of oilfield giant Weatherford's plans for its Broussard site off U.S. Hwy. 90 tell ABiz the company has purchased 60 acres behind the facility and hopes to eventually consolidate a number of Louisiana operations there. The Swiss company has offices and facilities spread out across the Broussard/Lafayette area, along with others throughout the state, according to its corporate website.

Weatherford operates in more than 100 countries and employs approximately 50,000 people worldwide. Its product and services portfolio spans the life cycle of a well, including drilling, evaluation, completion, production and intervention.

ABiz was able to confirm that 55,000 square feet is under construction at the Hwy. 90 site, which is in St. Martin Parish.

Buzzy Thomson of Thomson Brothers Construction says the project, an approximately $4 million 40,000-square-foot jar facility and another 15,000-square-foot hub and spoke building, should be complete by mid-January.

Thomson says he is not authorized to speak about any other plans the company may have for the site.

Multiple phone calls to Weatherford facilities in the Lafayette area were not returned.

It does appear that the new facility may pull jobs from outside of the immediate area. Citing three sources who had been briefed on the plans, the Tri-Parish Times newspaper reported July 3 that Weatherford intends to relocate most of its non-manufacturing operations and more than 100 jobs away from Terrebonne Parish by next year. According to the Houma paper:

The relocation could come as soon as February 2013, one employee briefed on the plans said. Roughly 125 jobs would transfer with the company, though current employees who would be affected have been or will be offered positions in the new location, sources said.

Weatherford's Grand Caillou Road location will likely be shuttered, according to sources. The company's East Main Street and South Hollywood Road offices are also in the crosshairs, they said. It is unknown what effect the relocation would have on the packaging center on Thompson Road.

The newspaper reported that it is unknown whether the consolidation is an effort to reduce the workforce, increase efficiency or streamline communication among offices.

Steve Vassallo, CEO of the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority, said he has heard only rumors that Weatherford is relocating.

"I didn't hear anything from (Weatherford)," Vassallo said. "This was third hand, and I haven't brought it to (Weatherford's) attention because I don't like to deal in rumors. I am working with them on another project right now, and if there's an opportunity next week because I've got to get back with them again I can certainly raise the issue, but they've made no official declaration to TEDA, to my knowledge."

ABiz left a voice mail message with the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority's office early Thursday afternoon, but it was not immediately returned.

Read the Tri-Parish Times story here.