Saskatoon

Saskatchewan expert predicts cheap oil here to stay

Marvin Romanow says the oil market is changing dramatically, and everyone, from consumers to oilfield companies, needs to adapt as quickly as they can.

Marvin Romanow doubts he will see from-scratch oilsands development in his lifetime

The Canadian Association of Oil Drilling Contractors forecasts it will drill half as many wells in 2015 compared to 2014.

Marvin Romanow says the oil market is changing dramatically, and everyone, from consumers to oilfield companies, needs to adapt as quickly as they can.

Romanow is a veteran executive in the oil and gas industry industry, and an executive in residence at the University of Saskatchewan's Edwards School of Business. Next week, he will be honoured for his work in the industry by the U of S College of Engineering.

As the price of a barrel of oil continues to sink and OPEC continues to increase production, the Canadian oil patch has been thrown into chaos.

However, Romanow is still suggesting that young, budding executives consider a career in the oilpatch.

Former oilfield executive Marvin Romanow says there is still opportunity for budding executives to get into the industry. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC News)

 "In a down cycle, you know things are going to improve," he said. "Business discipline is higher, and the pace of activity isn't as frantic, so there's time to train and develop young talent into the business." 

Romanow believes that the era of cheap oil will last for a long time. He predicts that's bad news for Alberta's oil sands.

"I don't think we will see a greenfield, from-scratch new oilsands development in my lifetime," he said. "It's high cost, and it's high cost because of how much above-ground capital you need to invest to extract that."

He predicts horizontal drilling, seen in the Bakken oil formation, has a much rosier future.

"I think that will be a much more important industry in North America, predominantly in the United States," he said. "They have more reservoirs and are closer to market than we are."

Ultimately, despite strong opposition from environmentalists, Romanow believes oil, gas and coal will continue to fuel society for years to come.

"We're going to be using hydrocarbons for a long, long time," he said. "Commodities are still very important to running the planet. We're not going to get rid of hydrocarbons soon."

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