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North to Alaska for Moncla crews
03-Aug-2013 / The Advertiser / Ken Stickney / View Article

For some 20 employees of the Moncla Cos., July meant time in Alaska.

But Alaska meant work, not play.

Co-owner Mike Moncla said last week that his company’s first platform workover rig, the Moncla 301, is “rigged up and working” in the Cook Inlet, a busy drilling area in southern Alaska. The company has 12 employees at a time on duty: six work days, six work nights for 21 days on, 21 days off.

“They love it up there,” Moncla said. “But they haven’t seen February yet.”

What they have seen, Moncla said, are ice-capped mountains as a backdrop for their work.

“It’s such a beautiful area, unseen by most people,” he said.

Moncla’s first workover rig was completed in June and shipped to Alaska in early July, a journey over land and sea that covered some 4,500 miles. The rig is staffed by Moncla employees, all of whom were eager to work in Alaska. In fact, Moncla said, he couldn’t accommodate everyone who wanted the Alaska duty.

The journey itself was an adventure. More than 30 trucks carried the rig’s pieces by land to Seattle, where the pieces were shipped by sea to Anchorage, then moved by truck to Nikiski. From there, the rig was loaded onto a workboat and taken to the platform. Cranes lifted the pieces up to the platform.

Moncla employees were flown to the site to assemble the workover rig. Final hookups were made by July 18.

Initially, the crews encountered some challenges in getting the rig working — there was some “trial and error,” Moncla said — but things are running smoothly now.

The platform workover rig is used to do heavy-duty maintenance and repairs for Hilcorp Alaska, a subsidiary of Hilcorp Energy in Houston. Moncla Cos. has enjoyed a longterm working relationship with Hilcorp, and the company encouraged the Monclas — brothers Mike, Marc, Matt and their Uncle Buck are co-owners — to do the Alaska project. The Monclas invested some $5 million, including their own company’s labor, in the rig, which was built by Superior Derrick Services in Parks.

The workover rig works on existing wells and is used in such tasks as repairing holes in tubing or casing in wells, or working on wells that are plugged and ready to reopen. It can work on several wells on one platform.

Hilcorp is building a second rig for work in Alaska — it is nearing completion — and the Monclas will staff that one as well using the same size crews that it has on the Moncla 301. Moncla said transport for the rig may begin within 30 days.