​High Arctic heads to Estevan to find workers for northern Alberta

Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

Estevan — The first indication that the oil downturn was starting to turn around was in the service rig sector. As early as the first quarter of 2017, service rigs in Western Canada started advertising for new workers, and several reported shortages. Billboards seeing workers became commonplace.

On Aug. 28, recruiters from High Arctic Energy Services and their service rig division, Concord Well Servicing, were in Estevan, Sask. with a job fair. The day before, they were in Weyburn.

Their goal is to find service rig hands to come to work in Alberta. While the company’s Lloydminster location is crewed up, they were looking for people to go to Grande Prairie, Cold Lake and the Edmonton area. The company is also developing a new location in Brooks.

“We’re turning down jobs because we don’t have enough people,” said Abby Toledo, one of two recruiters.

That’s why the company is now searching far and wide for staff.

High Arctic announced on Aug. 20 it had spent $9.4 million to acquire all of the shares of Powerstroke Well Control Ltd, increasing its service rig count to 58.

Powerstroke is headquartered in Grande Prairie and has offices in Greeley, Colorado and Williston, North Dakota. High Arctic says that from these locations it has been successfully offering snubbing service and well services to companies operating in North Dakota’s Bakken play and Colorado’s Niobrara Basin.

The acquisition establishes an entry into the United States for High Arctic, where it plans on expanding its well service offering. And that would be a good reason to look for more people.

“Ideally, we could probably take another 30,” Toledo said.

Cold Lake could use 12 people, and Grande Prairie could take 12 to 15. “We’ll see what we can get,” she said.

Ideally they’re looking for experienced hands, they are willing to train, and have in-house training.

In Estevan, May said they had received some good resumes. Five had come in, halfway through their job fair, which ran until early evening so that people had the opportunity to come in after work. Between Estevan and Weyburn, they said half the applicants were experienced, while others had worked in the industry, but wanted a different career.

To that end, Toledo said they’ve gone through a lot of transition. A lot of people have left the industry and are not coming back. The current generation of service rig workers is looking for a different work-life balance, valuing time off and stability, she said. The idea of working all the time is not as appealing, she added.

Some of the benefits the company is offering include a $2,500 signing bonus and a similar referral bonus, both of which require a person to stay a year to fully pay out.

— Pipeline News