Nabors drops pressure pumping business

Nabors Canada is getting out of the pressure pumping business, a move that affects more than 90 employees at the Nabors Industries Ltd. facilities in Sylvan Lake.

Nabors Canada is getting out of the pressure pumping business, a move that affects more than 90 employees at the Nabors Industries Ltd. facilities in Sylvan Lake.

Company president and CEO Joe Bruce said 49 employees were released on Wednesday, with the remainder expected to be integrated into other operations.

“Some will go to the U.S., some will go to (Sylvan Lake-based Nabors Production Services) and the remainder, come late November, December sometime if we haven’t found a position for them, will also be released.”

Bruce stressed that only Nabors Well Services Canada, which provides pressure pumping services, is affected.

“Nabors Production Services, which is our service rig division, and our Nabors drilling division are both extremely viable and will continue to operate. There are no plans whatsoever to change anything in those two divisions.”

Bruce said Nabors’ parent company, Nabors Industries Ltd., brought pressure pumping to Canada after it acquired Superior Well Services in 2010.

Used in hydraulic fracturing operations, pressure pumping accounts for only a small part of Nabors’ Canadian business.

“When you look at the overall pressure pumping business in Canada, the Nabors Well Services piece is only about one per cent,” he said, adding that the big players include Calfrac Well Services Ltd., Trican Well Service Ltd., Canyon Technical Services Ltd. and Sanjel Corp.

That’s made it difficult for Nabors Canada to gain a strong foothold in the pressure pumping market, he said, despite making a “considerable investment in the assets here.”

“Given the fact that it hasn’t necessarily played out the way we had initially projected, the decision has been made to move the equipment — specifically the pressure pumping equipment — to our sister company in the U.S., which is Nabors Completion and Production Services.”

Bruce said the prospects are better in the United States, especially since the industry there isn’t subject to seasonal cycles due to weather.

Earlier this year, Nabors Well Services moved from Blackfalds to the Nabors Production Services facilities in Sylvan Lake. Approximately 440 employees, including field staff, will continue to work out of that location.

Given the current shortage of workers in the oil and gas sector, Bruce is optimistic that Nabors’ displaced employees will find new jobs.

“We are aware that our competitors — Trican, Calfrac, Baker (Hughes Inc.) and so forth — are in the process of hiring.”

In addition to Nabors Production Services in Sylvan Lake, Nabors Canada operates a drilling division in Nisku and field offices in Leduc, Lloydminster, Brooks, Grande Prairie and Slave Lake.

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