As oil prices slide, Alberta forestry industry on upswing

The continuing downward slide of oil prices could give a boost to the forest industry even as it leaves the energy sector bracing for the worst.

Sector could take up employment slack if oilpatch sees jobs downturn

The continuing downward slide of oil prices could give a boost to the forest industry even as it leaves the energy sector bracing for the worst.

Oil prices fell below US$64 a barrel this week — roughly a 40 per cent slide since mid-summer.

Earlier this week Alberta Premier Jim Prentice warned that there will have to be belt-tightening as oil prices continue to tumble.

Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc. announced Thursday it will reduce next year's capital spending by 15 per cent.

But if there is a hiring slowdown in the oil patch, the forestry sector could be poised to pick up some of the slack.

"Right now our sector's ramping up in terms of employment quite significantly,” said Brock Mulligan, spokesman for the Alberta Forest Products Association.

“There's a lot of jobs available, there's mills adding shifts. So if there were additional workers that were out there looking for jobs, the forest industry would be a great place for them to come and work."

Alberta's forest sector is on an upswing, with revenues growing ten per cent a year thanks in part to exports to the U.S.

Spray Lakes Sawmills Woodlands manager Ed Kulcsar is watching the dip in oil prices closely.

"If it does cause a slowdown in other parts of the economy then there is a chance that the demand for diesel will drop and we'll see some significant price drops in diesel. But we haven’t seen that yet,” he said.

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