As the oil industry becomes more and more a part of the fabric of the provincial economy, so to do the companies that drill and provide services to extract the resource.
It’s also a reason some oil companies are looking at Brandon as a possible location to set up shop, according to City of Brandon economic development officer Sandy Trudel.
“We’ve been working with a company that is linked to the oilpatch,” Trudel said. “We’ve gone through some sites with them, but they’re not at a point yet where we are ready to disclose who they are.”
According to the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) there are currently six rigs actively drilling in Manitoba as of Nov. 13, with another 15 in the province expected to drill throughout the winter.
The rigs are drilling into the Bakken Formation in the Williston Basin, which stretches across south-central and southeastern Saskatchewan, northeastern Montana, northwestern North Dakota and southwestern Manitoba.
According to the United States Geological Survey, there could be more than 500 billion barrels of oil in the formation, meaning Westman should be busy with oil activity for the foreseeable future.
“Brandon continues to be the service centre in Manitoba,” Trudel said. “There is a quite a bit of oil activity around us ... It’s the recognition that the industry is growing and it’s spurring economic growth, so we’re going to benefit that way as a region. And it’s also looking at taking Brandon to the next level and what other specific opportunities might make sense here.”
The City of Brandon has worked with oilfield service giant Halliburton in the past, but Trudel said she hasn’t spoken with the company recently.
“We’re always trying to build relationships within industries,” Trudel said. “It’s a blend of trying to keep in tune with who is out there, what they are doing and where it might make sense for an opportunity in Brandon.”
While Brandon could become home to more service companies or recruitment offices, an oil executive, who wished to remain anonymous, said he doesn’t expect there to be a large oil footprint in the city.
“The problem is that Brandon is on the fringe of the (Williston) basin, so for most companies it isn’t a central location to the fields that are (being) drilled,” the executive said. “It’s important to have an office in the middle (of the activity) for time measures, cost measures and equipment measures.”