A Mammoet Canada Western driver loads one of three crude oil metering skids destined for a Enbridge pipeline location south east of Ft. McMurray at Crimtech Services in Red Deer on Tuesday.

Our slice of the sands

If you don’t think oilsands development is impacting Central Alberta’s manufacturing sector, you haven’t talked to Craig Nykyforuk of Crimtech Services Ltd. recently.

If you don’t think oilsands development is impacting Central Alberta’s manufacturing sector, you haven’t talked to Craig Nykyforuk of Crimtech Services Ltd. recently.

On Tuesday, a mammoth oil metering skid weighing nearly 82,000 kg (180,000 pounds) left the fabrication company’s yard in the Gasoline Alley Business Park. Two more were scheduled to follow today, with all three destined for Enbridge Inc.’s Cheecham Terminal south of Fort McMurray.

“We build stuff that’s so big we can’t even move it out of our shop by ourselves — we have to hire specialized companies,” said Nykyforuk, Crimtech’s president.

Not long ago, the company specialized in designing and building equipment for natural gas production. Today, about 40 per cent of its work is for oilsands projects, said Nykyforuk, with another 50 per cent related to pipelines — much of which have strong oilsands connections.

A short distance down Hwy 2 in Innisfail, Bilton Welding and Manufacturing Ltd. also serves oilsands clients. It’s building giant vessels, process packages and storage tanks, with the number and size of such projects necessitating a major expansion of Bilton’s main welding shop.

“We, probably about five years ago, really took on our first oilsands project and since then we’ve seen the volume of work that we’re doing for oilsands projects increase dramatically,” said Jason Greene, Bilton’s sales and marketing manager.

“Probably 60 to 65 per cent of the products that we’re building right now are heading up north.”

Meanwhile in Blackfalds, WorleyParsonsCord — the Canadian construction division of WorleyParsons Ltd. — is assembling field facilities for Husky Energy’s Sunrise Project northeast of Fort McMurray. The contract, which includes engineering and procurement work in Calgary and final construction in the field, is valued at $355 million.

And in Ponoka, Gemini Corp. — the town’s second biggest employer — regularly sends processing units like separator packages, well pad packages and electrical modules north.

“The oilsands would be a significant portion of our business,” confirmed Michael Duffy, Gemini’s project manager. He said that portion would account for about half of the Ponoka shop’s output, on average.

Other local companies, like Red Deer’s GenTex Oilfield Manufacturing Inc., benefit indirectly from oilsands activity.

GenTex president Garett Cupples explained that his company sells equipment to service companies that in turn do contract work for oilsands producers.

“There’s definitely an effect for us,” he said, estimating that up to 15 per cent of GenTex’s revenues might be attributed to this source.


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