Oilfield firm brings back 200 staff but makes 350 layoffs permanent as activity rises

Image: Trican Well Service Ltd.

Trican Well Service Ltd. says a slow recovery in oilfield activity has allowed it to bring back about 200 of the 800 employees it laid off last March and April but 350 temporary layoffs have been made permanent due to forecasts of a continued business slump.

On a conference call Friday, chief financial officer Rob Skilnick said the reductions earlier this year were made due to a near-halt in oilfield activity as the COVID-19 pandemic sapped global demand for oil, causing prices to fall.

Trican's revenue recovered to $74 million in the three months ended Sept. 30 from $28 million in the previous quarter, but remained well short of the $130 million in the third quarter of 2019.

The company reported a third-quarter net loss of $26 million or 10 cents a share, missing analyst expectations of $21 million or eight cents, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

It recorded losses of $17 million in the year-earlier period and $28 million in the second quarter.

On the call, CEO Brad Fedora said the company recently reactivated a fourth hydraulic fracturing crew and is considering bringing back a fifth as oilfield activity slowly recovers.

The Calgary-based company offers ``fracking'' completions of wells, where water, sand and chemicals are injected under pressure to break up tight formations deep underground and allow the oil and gas to be produced.

“Pricing of course, whenever you think it can't go lower, it goes lower,'' Fedora said. “There just isn't enough consistent work for what we think is approximately 20 frack crews running in the basin.''

Trican recorded $11.7 million in third-quarter severance costs.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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