Welder Rob Sucharyna works on a section of steel beam destined for an oilsands location with Shell Oil, as (from left) Wes Pringle, Jason Drummond, Scott Milburn and Jeff Pujo stand by, Wednesday afternoon.
A major contract in the Alberta oilfields will keep Behlen Industries’ machines humming for the foreseeable future.
The project, which Behlen says will be done with Edmonton-based NWS Construction, will require Behlen to deliver two or three buildings every month to Shell’s Carmon Creek heavy oil development near Peace River, Alta. Behlen is contracted for a total of 31 buildings, with the first ones being built as early as this December.
"It’s a huge win for us," Behlen vice-president and general manager Sean Lepper said. "It fits into our target audience of heavy industrial steel buildings and large capacity buildings."
The project will also help Shell Canada’s operations become more green in northern Alberta.
The buildings will allow one of Canada’s largest oil companies to capture energy while refining the oilsands crude and creating electricity that can be put back onto the Alberta power grid.
It’s the biggest job in Behlen history, although the company says that recently completed automation at its Brandon plant will allow it to do some of the work robotically, expanding their plant’s capacity and opening the door to future large contracts.
While it won’t result in any immediate new jobs at the Brandon plant, it could potentially eliminate any layoffs, which typically occur during the slower, winter months.
"The seasonality of our work being based in the Canadian construction industry is always problematic," Lepper said. "To be able to land work that gives us consistent flow through our factory through the winter months can’t be overstated."
Next summer, however, Lepper expects more welders to be hired as the project hits a "high point."
The Carmon Creek project, currently under construction, will produce about 80,000 barrels of oil per day. The heavy industrial buildings required for the site will need to be built stronger than a typical industrial building, created with reinforced steel and suitable to house heavy equipment.
Behlen says its building system will allow the structures to meet the strength requirement while keeping wide open interiors without columns, perfect to house large equipment.
The large stell structures will push the company’s manufacturing equipment to the limit, Lepper said, something he’s excited to see.
"Every building we do is custom so these buildings are pre-engineered steel, which is exactly what we’re best at," Lepper said.
The Carmon Creek project is just one of Behlen’s recent success stories. Last year, the company manufactured the largest convex-style frameless steel building in the world to house an international-sized soccer field and bleachers in Russia. Behlen also opened its first office outside of North America in Moscow late last year.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 28, 2014