“The industry is back, and our biggest problem now is hiring people” Energy company revives training rig after 14 years

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The Oil Industry is growing inside Lafayette, and local energy company, Moncla, is reviving a way to train new employees.

The company says it is the only training rig in Southwest Louisiana. It was built to add able, safe workers to the oil industry, and it’s just graduated its first safety class in 14 years.

“The industry is back, and our biggest problem now is hiring people,” professed Moncla’s Chief Financial Officer Wayne Elmore.

Moncla Energy Services knew it was time to restart its U of Krewe. 11 young men will be put on a rig next week that are now professionals after 40 hours of hands-on training.

“I didn’t know nothing about the oilfield until I came here,” admitted Dominque Prejean, 2021 U of Krewe graduate.

“And you feel like you have everything that you need?”, News 10’s Neale Zeringue asked.

Prejean answered, “Everything. All I need is my PPE, and my head to go, and I’m good.”

The week-long training program was revived to jumpstart hiring. The energy sector lost much of its workforce over the past year through COVID and when the president instituted a temporary ban on new oil and gas leases.

“We only had two rigs working in December, so since that time we have put 17 rigs to work, and we will have 30 rigs working in the next two months,” Elmore stated.

The last time the training rig was operated and Moncla’s need was so great to train new workers was 2007. Some of those graduates are now supervisors in the company.

“It was a big help. It shows you the basics of what you’re going to be seeing on an everyday job site. And where not to put your hands, and where is a safe place to put your hands,” stated Anthony Guidry, a tool pusher and 2007 U of Krewe graduate.

Fellow 2007 U of Krewe graduate Mitch Breaux, now a supervising welder added, “It also teaches you the hazards that you’re working around every day that you have no idea on a normal basis that those hazards exist.”

Elmore admitted in 2020, they came close to shutting down but urged they are survivors, who are looking for others to share in the reward.

“We have plenty of rigs. We can put them to work, but we have to have people to put to work,” he stated.

Each class runs a week, a full 40-hour workweek, and then they are ready for the next class. Moncla says they are accepting people now for the upcoming weeks. You can apply online here.

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