Bourgeois spoke to about 65 API members at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City.
“I don’t know if all of the oilfield supply companies are as fortunate as Cameron right now, but we are going through an unprecedented growth with Cameron, especially on the drilling side,” he said.
The Berwick-Patterson plant is to produce 15 to 18 blowout preventers a year for the next three years, he said. Other primary products at the plant are subsea manifolds, he said.
New regulations, such as recertifying blowout preventers every five years and deepwater drilling in excess of 7,500 feet, are increasing the demand on the plant, he said.
Bourgeois said when he started at the plant in 1975 as a machinist trainee there were fewer than 100 employees. The plant now employs about 480 people, and there is a goal to ultimately employ 580 people.
Cameron wants to hire 66 more workers in 2013 at the plant, he said.
“We have a very difficult time getting to that number,” he said. “Qualified people are nonexistent right now.”
The response has been to hire people with a good work ethic and willingness to learn, but that has its limits.
“We can’t hire any more people unless we find qualified, experienced people to come on and hit the ground running,” Bourgeois said.
The personnel issue impacts quality and safety.
“Believe me the customer would much rather have his equipment delivered right and a little late than to get it on the rig, installed and then get into a drilling program, and it craps out on him because of some defect,” he said.
Daily rig costs can be up to $600,000 a day, he said, which puts pressure on suppliers to deliver quality products on time.
Bourgeois stressed safety and cited complacency as a leading cause of accidents.
“There is a definition of insanity which says you do the same thing over and over and you expect different results,” he said. “Complacency is kind of just the opposite. You do the same thing over and over and you expect the same results, but you shouldn’t. You need to be prepared for something to happen such as a catastrophic failure.”