KATY — The smell of drying paint and grinding metal wafts through Weatherford International’s new manufacturing center where workers are churning out components vital to the process of pulling oil from the earth.
The new facility — built at a cost of about $100 million — is the latest manufacturing plant in the area for the Houston-based oil field service company and represents the company’s belief that demand for its production technology is on the uptick.
Every month, it turns out 120 pump units — the iconic machines also known as pump jacks, nodding donkeys, thirsty birds or rocking horses — that rock back-and-forth in a process used to pull liquid from an oil well when there’s not enough pressure for it flow to the surface on its own.
Today, the facility, which opened in January, employs 135 people, but Weatherford executives say they expect to have 335 people here by the end of next year, and it could eventually employ 500.
“We began thinking about this about two-and-a-half years ago,” said Ernest Dunn, vice presient for production systems at Weatherford. “We saw what was happening with horizontal shales and the future demand for this type of equipment.”
Company officials tout the new Katy facility as high-tech way of producing a traditional machine. See the video below to learn more about the center.