Drilling security on 24/7

SALEM – Like a marshal riding the range in the old west, TriCorps Security covers a lot of territory while checking oil and gas drilling sites for Chesapeake Energy Corp.

The range is in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania and covers the Utica, Marcellus north and Marcellus south shale plays.

When you are the the second-largest producer of natural gas, the 11th largest producer of oil and natural gas liquids and the most active driller of new wells, there are compliance issues and assets to protect so security around and inside drill sites has a number of aspects.

Pete Kenworthy, manager for media relations for Chesapeake Energy, explained that TriCorps Security has the job of keeping things tight and secure for Chesapeake with a team of 24 security officers who conduct “roving patrols” in an eight-county region, 24 hours per day and seven days a week.

In Ohio, a large percentage of sites are in Carroll County where the majority of the drilling activity is. Kenworthy pointed out that the officers, who are all current and or retired police officers or former military police, cover between 2,200 to 2,500 sites each month.

That makes for a lot of miles and time on the road checking vendors, drill site safety and traffic complaints on trucks over the limit on bridges, speeding and other traffic offenses or other “oil-related” issues, said Nick Turner, an officer for TriCorps Security.

A native of Carroll County, Turner said there are about four black and white vehicles patrolling the Carroll and Columbiana county areas and into Pennsylvania.

Kenworthy said job one, “is to check Chesapeake assets for security and safety compliance by both Chesapeake employees and vendors doing work for the company.”

He said compliance checks can range to any number of issues depending on the drilling company and the wellsite and alcohol, drugs and firearms are strictly prohibited from drill sites, and a sign at the gate underscores that message in red letters: “No Exceptions!”

Additionally, all vehicles are subject to search and all employees, contractors and visitors are subject to drug testing. No kidding. That’s on the sign too.

The time needed to check a site varies on the number of gates, whether security personnel walk or drive the site and the equipment on site that needs checked, Kenworthy said.

Anything from construction to production equipment could be checked and then logged on a computerized spreadsheet.

Consequences of non-compliance are not determined by the security officers but could span from a verbal warning to termination.

Kenworthy explained that in addition to daily safety compliance checks, the Chesapeake roving patrols are in place to respond quickly to any issues that may arise during the course of daily operations.

The patrols provide immediate, 24/7 attention to any non-compliance with regard to company or municipal policies which allows for local communities to minimize disruptions to daily routine.

The roving patrols actively monitor citizen traffic complaints and respond by providing a visible deterrence to speeding and other violations.

They usually respond to citizen complaints on certain roads that are identified and the word comes down “from upstairs” and Turner said they run radar on truck traffic and a lot of times it becomes an issue of collecting vehicle information.

Kenworthy said that although officers do not physically stop motorists, they do observe and report violations to Chesapeake management (“It’s reported to headquarters.”) and if necessary to local or state law enforcement.

So, among other concerns, officers have to be at least aware of the local speed limits on the roads they patrol.

Each drill site has an information board posted at the entrance that lists the permit and well numbers along with specifics of the well like its name, county, township, right on down to its global positioning.

There is also an emergency number that goes right into Chesapeake operations center in Oklahoma City, Okla., which has trained professionals on duty, around the clock, 365 days a year.

Kenworthy said, “The nature of the call dictates where the information is routed.

“It may be sent to security, the roving patrol, the local operations manager, local law enforcement/fire or any number of others within the company who are listed as contact people.”