By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Another drilling company has suspended local operations due to the collapse of energy prices.
Trican Well Services notified about 100 local employees that the Redcliff facility would be operated with a skeleton staff until exploration activity resumes.
Trican vice-president Rob Cox was in Medicine Hat last Wednesday to meet with about 100 local employees. He said a majority would receive severance and a layoff as operations would end immediately.
“I will tell you that these people have done great work,” Cox told reporters after the meeting. “This is a very painful day for the company but necessary in the environment that we’re in.”
The company will maintain a small staff and retain its facility on Elbow Drive in Redcliff. That would allow the company to ramp up activity relatively quickly when work resumes, said Cox.
However, he added, planned work by energy companies in the area was extremely limited and all over Alberta, projects were limited and prices for his well-servicing were dropping.
“We hope to be back,” said Cox. “It’s been a strategic base for us and it will be again in the future, but it just isn’t right now.”
“The slowdown is everywhere,” he said. “It’s worse in Medicine Hat than it is in other areas, but all our areas are under pressure.”
Industry groups have estimated that 100,000 jobs will have been lost at the end of 2015 due to low oil prices.
The list of local causalities has grown steadily since Halliburton closed its 200-person local shop in 2013.
Major drillers Baker-Hughes, Weatherford and Schlumberger have shuttered operations in southeastern Alberta, as well as mid-sized players Sanjel and Savanna Drilling.
Combined, the list of layoffs likely tops 1,000 drillers, though the exact number is not known. That does not include related slowdowns for subcontractors, supply and transport companies
Medicine Hat’s total workforce numbers 36,000 according to recent wage studies.
Trican’s 2015 report to shareholders released in February spelled out a plan to focus operations in Canada, control cost and possibly close locations.
The company stated 35 per cent of its fleet was parked during 2015 and price on services had dropped by one-third.
Trican’s local base covered the near region, but employees were also often dispatched across the province, said Cox, due to their expertise and the quality of their work.
“We hope the business comes back,” he said. “The resources aren’t going anywhere, they’re in the ground, but it’s a matter of it being economical to get them.”