Everything is bigger in the oilfield.
Case in point, a cake, approximately six square feet in size, resembling Trican Well Service’s new Brandon shop at the company’s grand opening yesterday.
The oil service company, which specializes in fracking and cement jobs, began operating in the city in January 2012.
After working out of an old shop for more than a year, the 70 full-time workers moved to a new 23,000-sq.-ft. shop in September 2013.
The capital cost for the new base was more than $8 million and manager Curtis Nurlien said the company chose Brandon because of its many amenities.
"It’s a nice centre for families to live and work out of and that was important," Nurlien said.
The company has an additional $13.5 million worth of rolling stock in the form of trucks and tanks at the facility.
Prior to the official cake-cutting, Trican president Murray Cobb said a strong housing and labour market propelled the company here.
Speaking after the ceremony, Cobb said he understands that fracking, which is a mining technique designed to increase production of oil and gas wells, is a contentious issue at the moment.
"A lot of people talk about fracking with emotion and very few facts," Cobb said. "We have a whole department that work with agencies to educate and give out the real facts about fracking."
Fracking is the procedure of blasting a compound, which generally consists of water, chemicals and sand, into geological formations at high pressures to create small cracks in the rock surrounding the wellbore.
According to the Manitoba Mineral Resources Petroleum Branch, there haven’t been any problems with the technique in the province since it was introduced more than two decades ago.
However, critics of the technique say it poses a threat to groundwater, potentially depleting freshwater sources through contamination from natural gas released from rock formed hundreds of millions of years ago.
The practice is regulated under the Oil and Gas Act, and Cobb said steel casing and cement is designed to protect groundwater.
"You have to be careful and you have to have good regulations, but if you follow those regulations you shouldn’t have a problem," Cobb said.
In wells in the Waskada field, for example, surface hole is drilled to about 200 metres at 31 centimetres, according to a driller in the area. Casing is then run and cemented in place to protect groundwater aquifers.
Intermediate casing is also run and cemented in place as another level of safety. Only the last leg of a horizontal well is fracked, often numerous times known as multi-stage fracking.
"If we don’t look after the environment, we’re not going to be in business very long and this is where we live and work, too, so we want to protect it," Cobb said.
Brandon economic development officer Sandy Trudel said Trican is a flagship example of the type of companies the city would like to attract.
"This is exciting for us because we’ve seen the oil activity in southwestern Manitoba and we knew Brandon has a role to play in it," she said.
Other companies are kicking the tires on using the city has a home base, while local companies, which have existed for decades, have also zeroed in on the boon.
"We’ve seen a lot of our local businesses that have adjusted their operating model and their viability has greatly increased now that they are servicing the oil industry," Trudel said.
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