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Upheaval in fracking industry throughout 2014

Estevan – If there was one word to describe the hydraulic fracturing business in Saskatchewan in 2014, that word would be “upheaval.” The changes are most pronounced in southeast Saskatchewan.
Element Technical Services
Element Technical Services of Carlyle, SK.

Estevan – If there was one word to describe the hydraulic fracturing business in Saskatchewan in 2014, that word would be “upheaval.”

The changes are most pronounced in southeast Saskatchewan. In late 2013 there were seven companies with bases in southeast Saskatchewan offering fracking services. They were Trican Well Service, Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Calfrac Well Services (Bienfait), Canyon Technical Services, Element Techni-
cal Services (Carylye) and Millennium Stimulation. All had bases in Estevan except for those noted in parenthesis.

Now we have four and a half, depending on how you consider Haliburton. Stepping back several years, Baker Hughes acquired BJ Services. Canyon set up shop in Estevan. Halliburton came back to Estevan (cementing their reputation of coming when times are good, and leaving when things slow down, as many people told us at the time). Millennium, a totally new firm, launched in Estevan, while Element, another startup, did the same in Carlyle.

Trican set up a new base in Brandon, Man. two years ago to take advantage of an untapped labor market and a housing market that wasn’t under nearly as much pressure as Estevan. That base was a supplement to the Estevan Trican base.

Many of these changes were in the works or took place well before the precipitous decline in oil prices since June 2014. Things started to go off the rails in the spring of 2014. Baker Hughes, which was in the process of building a “super centre,” a multi-million-dollar campus to consolidate all their Estevan operations, suddenly stopped work on it before they even closed in the first building.

The “coming soon” sign was replaced with a real estate sign. (A similar super centre was completed in Lloydminster. It opened in the fall of 2014). Baker pulled out of the pressure pumping business in Estevan and Medicine Hat (a base of many pressure services which service much of western Saskatchewan), with numerous layoffs. Millennium, which had just relocated one of its two frac spreads from Estevan to Medicine Hat, jumped on that and offered a career fair in Medicine Hat shortly after the layoffs. They picked up many former-Baker workers. Canyon did the same.

The summer of 2014 saw Halliburton take a page out of the Trican playbook. Whereas Trican moved part of its operations to Brandon to be closer to its Manitoba operations, Halliburton set up shop in Regina, to take advantage of a larger workforce and better housing options. However, Regina is not closer to any oilfields. While they still have a shop in Estevan, as well as some iron, at Christmas time, most of their trucks were parked at their Regina base just off Ring Road on McDonald Street. I

t’s not uncommon to see Halliburton trucks staying in Melita, Man. Late in 2014, Halliburton announced a merger with Baker Hughes. Calls to both companies have not been returned as of press time.

Calfrac Well Services has pulled out of Bienfait some time in mid-2014. They are reportedly active in the Kindersley area, but also have not returned our
calls. In mid-2014, the ATCO Logistics camp in Estevan, which serviced at lot of frac crews, closed its doors. It is still there, however, and has not been removed. Civeo, formerly PTI, set up a new camp in Melita, Man., replacing its Waskada facility. It also has a camp with room for approximately 350 people near Estevan.

Millennium purchased ENFRAC in August 2014, prompting it to develop a liquified natural-gas based frac service in the future. The company is also in
the process of going public and raising capital. Millennium opened its new frac sand facility in Estevan, located on the Long Creek Railroad, just off the CPR Soo Line.
Source Energy Services, which has a frac sand facility in Lampman, is currently undertaking a substantial expansion.

Element, in the meantime, has been growing its fleet, adding additional spreads and coil tubing units. A merger with an Alberta company went no-
where, however.