Grande Prairie hosts massive equipment auction in wake of energy slump

A bust in Alberta’s once booming oil and gas economy has Ritchie Bros. holding what it calls a ‘massive’ equipment and truck auction.

Bulldozers, trucks being sold off in droves as Alberta oil and gas companies flounder and fold

Just a small selection of the excavators that will be sold off during the two-day auction. (Ritchie Bros )

A bust in Alberta's once booming oil and gas economy has Ritchie Bros. holding what it calls a 'massive' equipment and truck auction.

With profits drying up, operators are selling off their heavy equipment in droves, filling the Ritchie Bros. lot with high-quality haulers, excavators and bulldozers.

With so much inventory, they've had to add the additional auction to their calendar. It is the largest sale in Grande Prairie by the auctioneering company to date.

"The economy definitely has an effect, and there has been some tightening," said Ritchie Bros. vice president Simon Wallan during a Tuesday morning interview on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM radio show.

More than 2,250 items — including more than 65 excavators, more than 60 bulldozers, hundreds of trucks and trailers—will be sold off March 14 and 15.

A large portion of the auction inventory comes from two companies — Pinnacle Services of High Level and Continental Pipelines of Fort St. John — which are selling off every last piece of equipment they own.

"All our equipment is well-maintained and ready to go to work for a new owner,"  said OJ Blanchette of Pinnacle Services.  "Some of it is actually still working for us right now — it will be taken straight from the job site to the auction site, cleaned and prepared for sale."  

As is the case with all Ritchie Bros. auctions, the items will be sold off without minimum bids or reserve prices. Even so, Wallan remains optimistic they'll fetch a good price.

"(The downturn has) had a softening impact on the economy and the forces that are out there right now," said Wallan. "But the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar and the high price of 'new' (equipment) has really helped level off, or keep constant the price of good, used equipment."

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