Edmonton

Oil patch companies forced to diversify

Oilfield service companies in Nisku, south of Edmonton, that have for years relied on the flow of money from the oilsands are now investing in other industries to keep the cash flow going.

Workers at one company now working 'normal hours'

A worker at Reliable Welding in Nisku, Alta. (CBC)

Oilfield service companies in Nisku, south of Edmonton, that have for years relied on the flow of money from the oilsands are now investing in other industries to keep the cash flowing.

Reliable Welding has designed and installed equipment for companies for two decades. It has seen a 40 per cent drop in oil field work.

“Diversifying is the key,” said Reliable Welding general manager, Matt Menasse. Instead of focusing on equipment for the oilsands, Manasse said his company is also making structural beams for companies not related to the oil industry.

“Moving forward and diversifying with structural pilings is filling the void for the time being,” he said.

Reliable Welding has laid off six staff since the price of oil tanked and has readjusted the number of hours for its remaining employees.

“Instead of having guys on 10 or 12 hour shifts now we’re down to 8 hour shifts, it’s a little bit more of a normal life style,” said Menasse, adding that it’s a lifestyle many Albertans aren’t used to.

The loss of hours is being watched by unions, including the Alberta regional council of carpenters and allied workers that represents 9-thousand workers, many of whom rely on work from the oilsands.

“We will inevitably become more innovative and creative because as owners see cost savings it’s not something that’s going to go away when the oil price returns, said Martyn Piper, the executive secretary-treasurer of the council. “I think we can all learn something from this.”

Shares in Canadian energy companies are down about 40 per cent from their peak in 2014. 

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