China finds energy expertise in central Alberta

Red Deer County companies Icon Energy Services and C-Sense Consulting find success in China

When Chinese gas exploration players went looking for top-of-the-line drilling help, their search ended in Red Deer County.

C-Sense Consulting Inc. and Icon Energy Services Ltd. are getting ready to ship their newest snubbing rig, destined for central north China.

“The Chinese are always trying to find the best in their industry,” said Michael Eadie, president of C-Sense’s consulting division.

“They get their beer from the Germans, they get their snubbing from the Canadians,” said Eadie with a laugh.

The Chinese contracts are the result of a team effort by the two companies. Icon’s president and owner is Ryan Edwards, and his manufacturing shop is located in Red Deer County’s Clearview Industrial Park, just south of Red Deer.

“We do the business development and sales in China, and we get Icon to build it to the Chinese customer’s preferred specs,” said Eadie.

He will head to China soon to commission two wells with them, bringing along a virtual simulator to help with training on the rigs that can range in price from $1 million to $2.5 million.

“I will commission it with the Chinese, and I would do two wells with them, showing them how the new systems work. If it’s different than their old units, we’ll go through the new systems and will help them with the actual completion of their wells.

“We’ve sold four snubbing units since 2016 to them. And I foresee doing one or two units for them in the foreseeable future every year.”

Canadians have developed a worldwide reputation as being experts in under-balanced drilling and snubbing technology, he said.

It involves inserting tubing or other equipment into the well while maintaining well pressure.

“You’re keeping well control as you’re working over the well, so it’s quite technical.

“Canada has been recognized as a leader in snubbing for some time now — probably since the early 2000s.”

There are more than 30 Canadian-made snubbing units at work in China, said Troy LeBlanc, president of C-Sense’s manufacturing division. Ray Zmaeff runs C-Sense’s service division.

While there are copies — as is typical in China — the Canadian-made models are still the go-to versions for the country’s high-profile wells, he said.

Despite the tough times Alberta’s oil and gas industry has faced in recent years, there is room for optimism.

“Our biggest commodity right now is our expertise. No matter where I’ve been working in the world, Saudi Arabia to southeast Asia to Europe, there are always Canadians around there.

“If the market is soft here, we’re working there and we are recognized as leaders in technology, leaders in forward thinking, safety — all of those things.

“It’s not all doom and gloom. Of course, we’d all love to be working here and staying with our families, but that is not the patch we’re in right now.

“But that will change.”

China is likely to provide a good market for many years as the country transitions from coal-fired power plants to ones run on natural gas, he said.

“We see growth there.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

oil & gas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Donations pour in for family of doctor killed in Red Deer attack

More than $100k raised as of Tuesday at 3:40 p.m.

Colleague says Red Deer physician who died was family man, good doctor

Monday’s attack is a shock to Red Deer health community

Doctor who died Monday in Red Deer knew the attacker: RCMP

Red Deer doctor was attacked in his walk-in clinic Monday

IN-DEPTH: Physicians often face aggressive patients

Almost all say they have been abused by patients or their families at some point

Central Alberta man charged with killing Red Deer doctor to appear in court

RED DEER, Alta. — A man accused of killing a family doctor… Continue reading

Alberta reports 257 new cases of COVID-19

The Alberta government reported 257 new cases of COVID-19 in its latest… Continue reading

Cast your votes for Best of Red Deer

The Advocate’s Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are back. Community… Continue reading

Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart to join Country Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE — Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart and songwriter Dean Dillon are… Continue reading

Broadway musical ‘Diana’ to bypass closed stage for Netflix

NEW YORK — The Broadway musical “Diana” isn’t waiting for theatres to… Continue reading

Stocks open higher, pushing S&P 500 closer to record high

Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Wednesday, bouncing back from a… Continue reading

Belarusian women rally in solidarity with injured protesters

MINSK, Belarus — Nearly 200 women gathered in Belarus’ capital on Wednesday… Continue reading

Biden, Harris to make unusual campaign debut in virus era

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden is making his first appearance with newly… Continue reading

PM’s ethical conduct in spotlight as Commons sits but Trudeau won’t be there

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s ethical conduct will be put under an opposition… Continue reading

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 12

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4… Continue reading

Most Read