Unity – Low oil prices might help or hinder the turnout, sponsorships and donations at this year’s 14th annual Oil Persons Bonspiel in Unity. Dustin Brown
the event chair and an operator at Northern Blizzard expects the full impact will be known well before curling gets underway from Feb. 26 to March 1.
“I don’t really know yet,” said Brown when asked about it on Jan. 8 when oil dipped below $49 a barrel. “We’ve got our second meeting coming up in two weeks. We’ll have a pretty good idea of who’ve we got for teams and sponsorships.
“I think it should be alright. It would be nice to have ‘20 some’ again.” Brown said parts of his company in the Unity area are busy, notably their waterflood field, while other segments are slow as oil prices fell for the seventh week in a row.
Attending the bonspiel he advised all oil company employees it's a nice way to get away and take your mind off everything else. The stressor for Grant Huber’s team
is not oil prices, but how to stay alive as the defending A-Event champs with a target on their backs that they’ve attached themselves. “We’re putting a bounty on our backs. It won’t take much to get rid of us,” joked Huber who senses his team's early fate at the Unity curling rink.
“If anyone does beat him, I’m sure they’ll let him know,” chimed Brown. Last year, was the first time in 13 tries that Huber skipped a team to glory when everything
clicked. “I think we just all curled as a unit. As a team we curled pretty good, so that helped. It was lucky 13,” he explained with faint hopes of a repeat this year.
“We’re going out there to have fun – that’s the main thing. We’ll see what happens.
“We’re just happy to be able to participate. We’re getting old. I’m 52 this year.” Huber, who owns Huber Machining, also offered his take on the possible effect of low oil prices on the turnout of companies knowing there were 22 teams registered last year during busy boom times. “We’re hoping that may have a better turnout, but who knows, it’s hard to say.
Maybe then they’ll be watching their dollars then too,” he hedged. He said the buzz in Unity on the impact of oil on activities levels is that it’s too early to tell in the second week of January. “Everyone’s kind of hanging in there waiting to see what the first quarter does. Into the second quarter it will tell the tale of what’s happening,” he said “I know some of the companies that have hedged in at better prices – they’re still busy.” Huber reported business is steady at his shop with all types of jobs. “It’s been steady. It comes and goes. It’s everything here. There a lot of service rigs in the area so I do some work for them,” he said.
“There’s some welders around that do lots of oilfield welding and I do work for them - pipeline guys – they works for Plains – people like that.” He added there is also a strong agriculture industry in the area that also supports the community and the bonspiel with prizes, donations and sponsorships. This year’s major oilfield sponsor is Tervita backed by various platinum, gold, silver and bronze sponsors from all sectors of the local economy.
The $280 team registration fee includes a minimum of four games, entry to the banquet and sponsored breakfast and lunch and a free cab ride home if needed.
Players who show up will discover their money has been well spent on improvements made to the Unity Curling Club during the off season. “At the beginning of the season, we sanded the rocks so they curl quite a bit more and we redid the bathrooms,” said Huber. “We gave them a makeover so they really turned out well.” The deadline to register is Feb. 15 to have a shot at winning some of the curling and banquet prizes that always pour in regardless of the price of oil.
“We’ll have a good selection to choose from this year. We’ll be putting for a TV. I think we’ll have a couple of beer fridges to raffle off,” said Brown. This will be Brown’s first full year as bonspiel chair and he has been curling once a week to hone his game and erase the memory of his team’s performance in 2014.
“We didn’t win a single game,” he said noting he was too busy as the chair. “We weren’t that good either,” he admitted. This time around, he’ll be playing third with the same group of guys he played with a couple of years ago from Southern Pacific Resource Ltd. when they won the B-Event title.
“So hopefully we can find some magic again,” said Brown.