November 9, 2021

NLC celebrates completion of Simulated Well Site Facility/Drilling Rig

FORT ST. JOHN – Almost a decade of collaboration involving approximately 50 industry partners, government agencies, and Northern Lights College (NLC) has resulted in an unparalleled training facility for current and prospective workers in the oil and gas industry.

Joe Bruce, President and CEO, of Nabors Canada. Nabors Drilling
Joe Bruce, President and CEO, of Nabors Canada.

The Simulated Well Site Training Facility
The Simulated Well Site Training Facility

The Simulated Well Site Training Facility is the only one of its kind in British Columbia, and it is a key element of the Jim Kassen Industry Training Centre/ Oil and Gas Centre of Excellence at NLC’s Fort St. John Campus.

Official opening ceremonies were held on Oct. 12. Joining staff and students from NLC were industry and government representatives, whose in-kind and financial contributions helped make the project possible.

Key amongst the financial contributions to the project was $930,000 in funding from the Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada.

“I’m pleased that this project will continue to support economic growth in northeastern B.C. by ensuring the region can meet local demand for skilled and trained workers,” said Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George—Peace River on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. “The Harper Government recognizes that investments like this one provide the tools necessary for our industries to succeed, and play an important role in strengthening our communities by creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.”

The Simulated Well Site facility, a three-acre fenced compound in the southwest corner of the Fort St. John Campus, started from an initial investment by the B.C. government.

“This new facility is a wonderful example of the partnership between government, our post-secondary institutions and private industry that drives successful skills training in our province,” said John Yap, B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology. “Under our new Skills and Training Plan we’re going to build upon sector-based Centres of Training Excellence like the Jim Kassen Industry Training Centre here at Northern Lights College, ensuring British Columbians have the skills and qualifications they need to be first in line for the jobs that are opening up.”

The crowning feature of the Simulated Well Site Training Facility is a 40-metre triple-cantilever, beam-leg mast drilling rig. The drilling rig is positioned over a 40-metre cased and cellared hole for drilling purposes. The rig was donated by Nabors Canada and its partner Shehtah Nabors LP.

“Nabors Canada is proud that Rig 62 will be an integral part of the Jim Kassen Industry Training Centre,” said Joe Bruce, President and CEO of Nabors Canada. “Rig 62 will serve many future generations of students who seek meaningful oilfield careers. We strongly believe that the educational opportunities available at Northern Lights College, combined with the hands-on training provided at this centre, will greatly improve hazard identification for improved safety.”
The facility, which also includes an operational service rig donated by Nabors Canada in 2002, is designed to simulate as closely as possible the elements of a working well site.

In addition to the drilling and service rigs, the facility includes: a pump jack, wellhead, three-phase separator, glycol dehydration unit, line heater, flare stack, storage tank, gas compression unit, amine unit, and pig receiver/launcher, along with tied-in service equipment.

“Thanks to the leadership and generosity of our industry and government partners, today we are opening a one-of-a-kind educational site that is set up as the model of an operating production site,” said Laurie Rancourt, President and CEO of Northern Lights College. “The realistic simulation provided by this facility will enable our students to become familiar with the operation of a typical well site from the beginning of their training, thereby increasing their level of safety and knowledge when they enter a real well site for the first time.”

Contributions from industry, government and corporate partners were integral to the evolution and completion of the Simulated Well Site Training Facility. Fifty partners helped out in some way with the project. Donations from industry included: buildings and equipment, construction materials, labour, and expertise. (For a list of industry partners in the Simulated Well Site Training Facility, see Backgrounder.)

“Without the vision, dedication, and overwhelming support and assistance offered by members of the local oil and gas industry who saw the potential that a simulated well production site could offer, we would just have a number of random process buildings and equipment spread about the compound,” said Stacy Smith, Trades and Apprenticeship chair at NLC. “It was this common vision that allowed the College and the community to create something exceptional that helps educate our students and the people in the Peace region regarding the industry that is so important to our economic growth and development.”

Currently NLC offers the following energy related programming at the Fort St. John Campus: Oil and Gas Field Operator, Industrial Instrumentation, Power Engineering and Gas Processing, Electrician, and Heavy Duty Technician.

New programming, offered in conjunction with Enform, coming online in conjunction with the new drilling rig includes: Introduction to Drilling and Well Servicing, and Introduction to Production Operations, Pipelining and Gas Processing. In addition, a Rig Technician program is in development.
For more information about programming available at Northern Lights College, go to the website at, or call toll free at 1-866-463-6652.

Backgrounder: In-kind and financial support towards the Simulated Well Site Training Facility have been provided by the following:

  • Altec Inspection Ltd.
  • Apache Canada Ltd
  • Apex Distribution
  • Bring-It Welding
  • C.R. Braaten Welding
  • Cancor Rathole Inc
  • Cheyenne Industries Inc
  • Complete Pumpjack Services
  • Conoco Phillips Canada
  • Devon Canada Corp.
  • Encana Corporation
  • Fedderly Trucking
  • Finning (Canada)
  • Government of British Columbia
  • Government of Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada
  • Grimes Well Servicing Ltd.
  • HF Nodes Construction
  • Hi-Time Services Ltd
  • IPAC Services
  • Mercur Contracting Ltd
  • Mlilen Oilfield Services
  • Myca Sand and Gravel
  • Nabors Canada
  • Oakridge Environmental
  • PatchPoint Enterprises
  • PC Oilfield Services
  • PE Ben Oilfield Services LP
  • Peace Enterprises Ltd
  • Petro Canada Oil and Gas
  • Progress Energy Resources Corp.
  • Propile Partnership
  • Rivers End Ventures
  • Rogers Trucking Ltd
  • Science and Community Environmental Knowledge Fund
  • Shehtah Nabors Limited Partnership
  • Shell Canada
  • Spartan Controls
  • SSR Specialty
  • Stream-Flo Industries
  • Suncor
  • Surepoint Group
  • Swanberg Brothers Trucking
  • Trahan Oilfield Services Inc
  • Troyer Ventures
  • Unified Valve Ltd
  • Waterous Power Systems
  • Westlund – Division of Emco Corp
  • Wildcat Welding
  • Zedi